Hundreds of people attended the flag-raising ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei, ushering in the new year by singing the national anthem and national flag song.
Even before the first light of dawn on the first day of the new year, people gathered in the plaza in front of the Presidential Office to take part in the ceremony, which began with lively dragon and lion dances symbolizing joy and good luck.
A military marching band comprised of 120 members of the three armed forces followed, performing music and military drills to the delight of the spectators.
Highlights of the military parade included a drill by a troupe of 18 soldiers and a four-year-old boy, which showed off their rifle twirling skills.
However, for most of the attendees — from Taiwan and abroad — the highlight of the ceremony was the singing of the Republic of China (ROC) anthem and then the singing of the flag song as the ROC flag was raised to the top of the pole above the Presidential Office.
“Seeing so many local people sing the anthem really touched me,” said Alexey Kolesnichenko, a 31-year-old from Russia who attended the flag-raising ceremony for the first time since moving to Taiwan four years ago.
Impressed by the energy at the ceremony, Kolesnichenko said this was a “fresh” experience for him because Russia does not hold such an event on New Year’s Day.
For one local resident, the ceremony had a touch of nostalgia, reminding her of her school days.
“Singing the national anthem with so many people was a touching moment,” said Lin Meng-yi, a 33-year-old woman from Taipei.
“After graduating from school, I haven’t sung the song for a long time,” she said. “I was quite surprised that I still remembered the words when the music started.”
Like many others, Lin attended the ceremony hours after watching the Taipei 101 fireworks display, the focal point of the capital’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
This years is the 101st year of the ROC. To celebrate the start of the country’s second century, the ceremony also invited 101 schoolchildren to lead the crowd in singing the national anthem.