Yilan Children's Folklore Festival

Every summer, the hotter it gets, the more fun it is at the International Children・s Folklore & Folkgame Festival in Yilan.
Water guns, swim wear, happy kids, this is one of the events that children and teenagers look forward to every July and August. But in addition to playing in the water and getting soaked to the bone, at the festival there are also plenty of local and international performances and exhibitions to be seen as well. But while we・re in Yilan, today we・re going to get to know a part of local religious culture too.
These cute little turtles made of sugar are a dying tradition that started to disappear 30 years ago.
August 15th of the lunar calendar is Tu Di Gong・s birthday and people bring him turtles as offerings. Turtles are a symbol of longevity. So when people pray for longevity, they ask to bring turtles home.
Tu Di Gong is a Daoist earth god who administers over the affairs of the local area.
When I・ve gone hiking with my friends, I・ve always prayed to Tu Di Gong, and if they don・t, they・ve always ended up hurt before. So it always pays to do so.
To make sugar turtles, you tie the pieces of the mold together with rubber bands, then make the sugar syrup with three parts sugar and one part water and cook it for about 15 minutes.
When we were children, we didn・t have candy to eat. This was our candy. In the 1980・s, sugar turtles started to disappear when candy imports started. Sugar turtles can be shared among the entire family. Kids would break off the smaller pieces like the feet and adults would come home to find turtles with no feet and tails.
When the syrup is thick enough, you pour it into the mold and another 15 minutes later, the mold can be taken apart, carefully.
The head・s still intact! We did it!
And now you ask Tu Di Gong if you can bring one home. If the crescent shaped wooden blocks turn one side up and one side down, it means :yes.;
Congratulations! Now you can bring one home. Pick one.
I had no idea and apparently most people don・t have any idea that they do this as tradition. So I・m very happy to have experienced such a thing.
 
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