The origin of Taiwan’s night markets

Taiwan is synonymous with night markets — an informal congregation of peddlers that once upon a time relied on the magnetism of temples.

A tradition carried over from dynastic China, people would congregate at temples on a regular basis. Opportunistic vendors would swarm in from all directions to sell their wares on shoulder poles or simple push carts.

It’s here where the perception of night markets has been stuck in time — dense, bright lanes packed with people, where vendors are one-dish specialists, perfecting the same food for generations.

In the latter part of the 20th century, a period of economic prosperity — often called the Taiwan Miracle — created a boom for businesses across the island.”

From a business perspective, night markets were at their most prosperous in the 80s and up until the mid-90s,” says Dr. Shuenn-Der Yu of the Academia Sinica Institute of Ethnology, whose doctoral thesis focused on Taiwanese night markets.

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