Siao Du

Timorese Taiwan Alumni Association president.

Siao Du thinks the Timorese Taiwanese community get the best of both worlds – celebrating the western and Lunar New Years.

As a former Portuguese colony, East Timor has western culture influences, but many young people travel to Taiwan for education and are introduced to other celebrations. “It’s a party time,” Ms Du said.

“Timorese people (are) very happy. They have the same vibe as Latin American people, focusing on enjoyment and family.”

Having immigrated to Australia in 1977, Ms Du said it used to be difficult to celebrate Lunar New,but that has changed.

“Now we can go to Chinatown to buy anything,” she said. “We can go to the cemetery and buy paper to burn or incense to burn to respect your ancestors.”

Traditionally families enjoy a 12-course meal, with each course having a different focus, such as health, children or life. Mahjong is a common pastime for family members to play.

Paying respect to elders and teaching that to younger people is also part of the celebrations. “People have to try their best to be very nice people, which is good for society and the community,” Ms Du said.