Fri, Aug 24, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Tainan 16-year-olds take part in unique tradition

Staff writer, with CNA

A girl passes under a temple altar table in Greater Tainan’s Confucius Temple yesterday as part of the International Chihsi Arts Festival.

Photo: CNA

“Coming-of-sixteen” (做十 六歲), a tradition unique to Tainan in which teenagers take part in a ceremony to celebrate their 16th birthday, was held at several temples in Tainan City yesterday. A number of Japanese media outlets were also invited to witness the celebrations.

The celebration is traditionally held on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, which this year fell on Aug. 23.

Among the participating temples, the Kailong Temple (開隆宮) is the most well-known for staging the coming-of-age celebration.

Former Tainan mayor Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) promoted the festivity by inviting all the temples in the city to participate.

The celebration subsequently became so popular that some temples in the city also hold coming-of-age celebrations for Christian residents.

Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) yesterday attended several coming-of-age celebrations at different temples.

The rituals in the coming-of-age celebrations are rather simple; participants have to crawl under the offering table and burn money for the immortals, Tainan residents said.

Young adults who have completed the rites then parade through streets of Tainan in traditional costumes on horseback, they said.

Residents said the coming-of-age ritual is celebrated in Tainan at the age of 16 because centuries ago child workers were paid half the adult salary until the age of 16.

When the children turned 16, parents would hold a feast for their employers, their family and friends to announce the good news.

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