A Pingtung County village is launching a month-long celebration of the Christmas holiday tomorrow with the lighting of a Christmas tree at 5pm in the plaza in front of the nation’s oldest Catholic church.
The Wanchin Basilica of the Immaculate Conception stands in Wanluan Township’s (萬巒) Wanchin Village (萬金).
The basilica traces its history to 1863, when a small church was built in the area. Construction of a larger sanctuary began in 1869 and the church was consecrated in December 1870. It was awarded the title of basilica by then-pope John Paul II on July 20, 1984.
The church sponsors a grand march on Dec. 8 every year in honor of the Virgin Mary’s immaculate conception, which draws pilgrims and tourists from around the nation and abroad.
Pingtung County Government’s Information and Tourism Department said a month of special events cosponsored by the church and the county government will be held in the area starting on Dec. 8, which is expected to draw about 200,000 people to the area.
This year a three-dimensional tiled artwork by Liu Jen-sheng (劉仁生), measuring 6m by 4.5m, is being installed in the plaza for the celebrations. County Commissioner Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻), Father Hsu Ching-hsien (徐清賢) and Taiwu Village (泰武) head Sun Wan-chiao (孫萬教) presided over the unveiling of the piece on Tuesday.
Information and Tourism Department head Yin Feng-lan (鄞鳳蘭) said this year’s celebrations have already drawn widespread attention, with some local hostels reporting calls for reservations by tourists from Macau.
The department has prepared 1,000 Golden Christmas lunchboxes, which include discount coupons for eight local stores and a promotional brochure with the calendar of events would also have discount coupons for coffee.
Additional reporting by staff reporter