This year, the Lunar New Year took place just a few days before western Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14. Valentine’s Day is normally celebrated with flowers, gifts, and romantic meals. Now, there is an additional way to celebrate. Tainan has launched the “Bilingual Love Lottery Poetry Service,” the first of its kind in Taiwan. This service was rolled out several days before Valentine’s Day, and will allow everyone to experience a Taiwan-style Valentine’s Day. Tainan City Mayor Huang Wei-che personally served as an English-speaking guide to foreign visitors who wanted to experience this service. He explained how to practice love lottery poetry, the significance of the red thread, what the kneeling ritual is, and how to make DIY peace talismans. The foreigners thought this experience was “so cool,” with many sharing it online with their friends.
Tainan has four major God of Matchmaking temples, and many young people go there in search of good luck in love. Every year, the deity unites a countless number of couples. It helps those seeking to “find a good marriage,” “rekindle their romance,” “end bad luck in love,” or “stir up emotions.” Many people have confirmed that the deity is extremely effective. Visitors to Tainan can pray to the God of Matchmaking to help them find true love while feeding their soul with Tainan’s culinary delicacies in the process. To allow foreign visitors to experience the special “Love Lottery Poetry and Red Thread” ritual, the Tainan City Government teamed up with Tainan Grand Matsu Temple to roll out the innovative “Bilingual Love Lottery Poetry Service.” Related rituals such as those involving the red thread or peace talismans have also been made bilingual. It is hoped that this English-friendly temple will become the most popular attraction for foreign tourists. The service was launched a few days before Valentine’s Day to allow foreigners to celebrate the holiday in a different way this year.
As part of the effort to market Tainan’s unique love culture, Huang specially traveled to Tainan Grand Matsu Temple to experience this new service alongside foreign friends. He recounted the temple’s history and described how to practice love lottery poetry, all in English. He also explained the significance of the red thread and the kneeling ritual before making DIY peace talismans with the foreigners. Christelle Sionneau is from France, already has two children, and never prayed to the God of Matchmaking before. Her interest in the deity was piqued when she heard he is Taoist “deity of love” in Taiwan and there was a temple offering a bilingual love lottery poetry service. She said the appearance of the “eastern god of love – the God of Matchmaking” is very different than that of the “western god of love – Cupid.” Cupid sometimes mischievously shoots the wrong person with his arrow, but it appears that the God of Matchmaking “has a very good track record” and the hall is full of the wedding photos of couples that the deity matched together. Christelle concluded that she will immediately introduce her single friends to the God of Matchmaking. The mayor joked that “Tainan Grand Matsu Temple’s God of Matchmaking matches up an average of 300 couples a year, and his workload is increasing because he now has to help foreigners find true love as well!”
Meanwhile, Mara Loba from Colombia said that local friends had previously taken her to temples to practice lottery poetry. However, her friends were not able to explain the corresponding fortunes to her in English because they were too difficult to understand and too ambiguous. She was amazed when she found out Tainan Grand Matsu Temple had launched a bilingual love lottery poetry service with easy-to-understand English translations. Mara, who is single, drew a good result. The lottery poetry told her “the hard times are over, the good times are just beginning, and good luck is imminent.” This result made her happy, and she also prayed to the God of Matchmaking to help her find her other half.
William Walsh, an American, privately revealed that although he isn’t Taoist, the lottery poetry he received tallied with a current predicament, filling him with admiration for the God of Matchmaking. He even praised the love lottery poetry ritual as “so effective!” Bae Leosala from the Philippines was equally interested in the contents of her corresponding lottery poetry. She said the contents were extremely clear, and she will follow the recommendations contained in the lottery poetry in order to find true love. Leosala also commented on this novel experience, saying that she will return to the temple to practice lottery poetry in the future whenever she finds herself in a predicament.
Huang thanked Tainan Grand Matsu Temple for working with the city government to provide the bilingual love lottery poetry service. Foreign visitors can take their lottery poetry home with them as souvenirs. They serve as great marketing tools for the city. The mayor said the number of temples with English-friendly environments is already at 17 and several temples also provide online English audio guide services. He welcomes residents to introduce these services to their foreign friends or download these guided tours before going to temples because “you can even learn English while worshipping!” In the future, residents may even get the opportunity to provide English commentary to their foreign friends. Following the ritual, Huang presented all of the foreign visitors with the popular God of Matchmaking lipstick set and compact. They all agreed that Tainan’s God of Matchmaking rituals are really interesting!
More information on Tainan’s English-friendly temples: https://goo.gl/8vxJKJ