Fri, Dec 23, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Tainan’s Christmas tree celebrates city’s salt past

MORE THAN A PINCH:The festive sculpture is the work of artist Wang Sung-kuan, who used 40 tonnes of the oft-sprinkled flavor enhancer to complete his creation

Staff Writer, with CNA

A Christmas tree constructed from salt and a model of a reindeer help to create the impression of a “white Christmas” at the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Management Office in Beimen District, Greater Tainan, yesterday.

Photo courtesy of the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area Management Office

A Christmas tree made of salt has been unveiled in Greater Tainan ahead of Christmas Day to promote tourism to the southern city, which was once a hub for salt production.

The 6m tall tree, which is made from 40 tonnes of salt, will be just one of the many attractions at the White Christmas Festival scheduled to be held in the city on Saturday.

“The tree has been dubbed the saltiest Christmas tree in the world,” said Chang Cheng-yuan (張政源), director of the festival’s co-organizer, the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area’s headquarters.

Standing on a “snowy” patch of ground that is also made from salt, the tree was created by sculptor Wang Sung-kuan (王松冠) over a period of two weeks, Chang said.

“The tree was made out of salt because the organizers wanted to use local material to create their very own, one-of-a-kind Christmas tree,” he said.

“From a traditional perspective, salt is used to drive away evil spirits and misfortunes and is also a symbol of blessing,” Chang added.

Tainan was once home to the Qigu Salt Pans, which were the largest in Taiwan and produced about 60 percent of the country’s salt.

However, the 338-year history of salt production in Taiwan came to an end in 2002 after the salt fields closed, as the local salt industry was unable to compete with cheap imported salt, the director said.

Chang said visitors to the festival could enjoy a variety of salt products, including salt coffee, salt eggs and creative works of art made of salt, and could even make their own salt at an old salt field.

The festival will also feature a traditional hand-puppet show, 300 costumed carol singers and a masquerade party.

The unveiling, a tree-lighting ceremony, was held last Friday to introduce the tree to the public and promote the upcoming festival.

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