After consulting more than 8,000 Hakka opinion leaders, academics, politicians, representatives from Hakka organizations, as well as randomly selected Hakka around the country, the Council for Hakka Affairs yesterday announced that the 20th day of the first month of the lunar calendar would be National Hakka Day in Taiwan.
In Hakka culture, the 20th day of the first lunar month is known as “Sky Mending Day.”
According to ancient beliefs, when the god of water lost a battle with the god of fire, he smashed his head against one of the pillars holding up heaven, causing the pillar to collapse and heaven to crack open.
This caused disasters on earth, including non-stop torrential rain and fire, while human-eating beasts began roaming the earth.
Eventually, the legend goes, the goddess Nuwa (女媧) repaired the collapsed pillar and filled the cracks with rocks of five colors, thus ending suffering of all creatures on earth.
While the myth does not come from Hakka traditions, only Hakka celebrate the day in Taiwan.
“Hakka are usually hard-working people, but they will stop working on Sky Mending Day and have fun,” council Minister Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) told a press conference to announce National Hakka Day at council headquarters in Taipei. “People would keep a piece of steamed sticky sweet rice cake made for Lunar New Year to present as an offering to Nuwa on that day as a symbolic material for her to fill the gap of heaven.”
Aside from steamed rice cakes, Hakka also present fried sticky rice balls with needles and stitches on them as tools to sew up the cracks in heaven.
“Sky Mending Day was chosen because though it’s a holiday unique to Hakka, it’s not xenophobic,” Huang said.
Two other dates had been suggested by Hakka for the national day: Yimin Festival Day — which commemorates people who died defending their homes in uprisings during the Qing Dynasty — and the Hakka Tomb-Sweeping Day.
“We did not choose the two other dates because the Yimin Festival falls on different dates in the north and in the south, while Hakka Tomb-Sweeping Day could fall between the 16th day of the first lunar month up to April 5 on the official calendar, depending on the region,” Huang said.
The Hakka Basic Act (客家基本法), which came into force in January, stipulates that there should be an official National Hakka Day to honor Hakka contributions to the country.
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