FEATURE: A pair of Taiwanese ‘Fortune Shoes’ for Valentine’s Day

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Whether you’re single, in a relationship, or checking the “it’s complicated” box on Facebook, you’ll be interested in spending Valentine’s Day in Dadaocheng, one of the oldest and most culturally significant districts in Taipei.

The China Post headed to DaDaocheng with Joshua Samuel Brown, Editor-in-Chief of Taiwan Scene and MyTaiwanTour, to explore the Xiahai City God Temple and try a pair of “Fortune Shoes” on for size.

According to local traditions, Taiwanese women would express their gratitude to the wife of the City God by presenting her with a pair of embroidered shoes to be blessed and taken home.

These days, few people have the time to make their own shoes, so they’ll buy replicas in the area to present to the Wife of the City God for a blessing before taking the shoes home. Having a pair of “Fortune Shoes” at home is meant to impart blessings for a harmonious relationship.

“As I understand it,” Brown told The China Post, “the shoes are meant to signify the sincerest wishes of the wife that the husband would come home after work instead of running around town.”

Does it work? There’s no scientific proof, but we can tell you that tons of people pay their respects to the Wife of the City God on Valentine’s Day. The temple, located in Dadaocheng District, is one of the three major City God Temples in the area, alongside the Cisheng Palace and the Fazhugong Temple.

The temple’s patron saint is originally from Wuxiang Village in Xiadian Township, which is itself in China’s Fujian Province. The township is also known as Xiacheng, and the “Xiahai” in Xiahai City God Temple means “cross the sea”, signifying the god’s origins from across the Taiwan Strait.

Despite the temple’s popularity, this temple has never expanded and has remained on the same tiny piece of land as the neighbourhood around it has grown larger by the decade. For this reason, the temple is sometimes compared to the nest of a mother hen watching over its little chicks in all directions.

Over the past 100 years, farmers, merchants and business people in the area have all sought blessings from the deities inside Taipei’s Xiahai City God Temple. As for the efficacy of their prayers, it’s clear that businesses around the temple are booming and the area is flourishing culturally.

Despite the temple’s small size, the gods within seem to have brought great fortune to the area, leading some to say that the smaller the temple the more wealth it generates.

Visitors to Taipei are welcome to come by and receive the temple’s blessings on Valentine’s Day (for matters concerning romance and relationships) or any other day, for that matter. If you’re coming around Valentine’s Day, don’t miss the chance to show that special someone you’re thinking about them by bringing them a pair of blessed Fortune Shoes.

(This article and video were produced in collaboration with Taiwan Scene)