According to legend, Matsu (pronounced “Mazoo”) was born in 960 A.D.. In a dream, young Matsu saved her brother from drowning after their ship sank, and at age 28 she ascended to heaven. Her miracles continued, and Matsu earned the title Goddess of the Sea and Empress of Heaven.
Matsu, patron saint of fishermen, is one of the most venerated deities in the Chinese pantheon, and her birthday is celebrated with elaborate rites in Taiwan's hundreds of Matsu temples. The largest celebration is at Peikang's Chaotien Temple. Groups from around the island bring image, of their own deities to visit Peikang's main Matsu image, considered the most effective image in Taiwan. Visiting deities are paraded down the main street atop or inside ornate palanquins, heralded by mounds of exploding firecrackers. Various folk performances are held in the temple courtyard, while pilgrims attend a steady succession of rituals inside the temple. The temple's Matsu images make inspection tours of the town, and at night, lighted floats parade the streets. Smaller parades can be seen in most seaside cities.