A calligrapher writes a set of spring festival couplets for a customer. Spring festival couplets are used as New Year decorations in Taiwan to express hopeful thoughts for the coming year. Handwritten ones are increasingly rare in the digital age. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A woman buys bagfuls of vegetables from the vendors on the morning of Lunar New Year’s eve. Preparations for New Year’s eve dinner usually take up a whole day. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A grocery store inside Taichung’s Yidianli market. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A vegetable store in Taichung’s Yidianli market. “We have every kind of vegetable you could think of – and ours is the cheapest in the market,” a shopkeeper says. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A vendor, surrounded by curious mothers and daughters, introduces them to his wigs and headbands. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A father and son from Lishan, in the mountains outside Taichung, sell vegetables in Jingu market every Friday. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A pork shop in Jingu market, Taichung. The shopkeeper is enjoying a moment of peace before the next group of shoppers descends. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

Every item here – ranging from pens to bowls and towels – costs just NT$17  (US$0.54) during the Lunar New Year holiday. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

A man buys wrapped good luck candies for the Lunar New Year. Candies symbolize good luck in the coming year. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

People queue to pick up pre-cooked New Year’s Eve dinners. Some families. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

Customers shop for spring festival couplets – printed ones. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

Women pick out red envelopes, which are used for monetary gifts given during the holidays, usually by more senior members of society to their younger kin. Red, symbolizing good luck, is thought to ward off evil spirits. Photo: Asia Times / Liu Hsiu Wen

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