Come March 30 to May 19, travellers to Taiwan can immerse themselves in a magical floral fantasy as millions of Tung blossoms burst into full bloom, carpeting the hills and fields in the countryside in a vast sea of white.
During the Tung Blossom Festival, visitors can enjoy viewing tours around the Hakka village and take part in a grand ceremony conducted by the Council for Hakka Affairs to worship the three Mountain Gods, who are the people’s guardian spirits. The ceremony not only offers thanks and respect to the mountains and forests, but also serves to encourage the people, exhorting them to respect the law, be solemn and holy, devout in their prayers and cherish the roots of their culture.
Once an important cash crop for the Hakka people, tung trees were widely planted in the mountainous regions in the Hakka area, bringing many economic opportunities to local communities. The Hakka people, who lived a simple, hardworking life nurtured by ancient wisdom passed to them by their ancestors,would extract tung tree oil from seeds and use its wood as a basic material in producing consumer goods.The tree has helped many a family make ends meet, and is thus the main reason that the Hakka have a deep, heartfelt gratitude for it, the mountains and nature in general.
The Tung tree undergoes different stages throughout the year. In April and May, as the Tung Blossom Festival kicks into action, its flowers come into full bloom and are a beautiful snow white.In summer, green leaves sprout from its branches, autumn turns all its leaves yellow,while tree sheds all its leaves in winter. Throughout their history, the Hakka people’s movements and activities have often mirrored these seasons, moving from their homes as winter sets in and daily living gets tough. Yet, these people have nevertheless held on firmly to their traditions.
Though people’s livelihoods are no longer dependent on the tung tree today, the Tung Blossom Festival has enjoyed great popularity,as travellers frequently come by each spring to witness the countryside decked out in dreamy white hues.