Saturday, May 17, 2014

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When modernity and tradition clash in Taiwan

5/17/2014 Taiwan Explorer

My wife has recently met one of her old friends, they haven't met for over a year. She asked her about her relationship, and the girl told her she broke up. My wife was very surprised, because she remembers that they were such a nice couple. Here's what happened: They were dating for a year, and everything was fine. His family was from southern Taiwan, she was from the north, from Taipei. Initially his mother liked her, so did the rest of her family. As time passed by and their love grew stronger, one day they decided tell his mother that they are very seriously in love, and that they planned to marry. When his mother heard that, she decided to go to a fortune teller to see if the couple's "bazi matched" (it's something similar to astrology). In Southern Taiwan people are on average more superstitions than in the north, and some take these things very seriously. The fortuneteller told the mother that the couple wasn't a match, and then the terror begun. The mother kept pressuring her son to break up, and his whole family stood behind her. She even called the girl's family, asked her father to pressure his daughter to break up. Initially the couple was strong, and determined to continue, but after 1 year of pressure they finally gave up, and broke up. The mother was very satisfied, and even the boy's sister, who used to be friends with the girlfriend, wrote on her Facebook: "Finally you released my brother, and our family can live in peace again." This story shows the cultural difference between the Western emphasis on individuality (which has also influenced modern urban Taiwanese), and the Confucian emphasis on family, which is still present all across Taiwan, but remains much stronger in the south of the country.

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