"CHINESE FESTIVALS IN HK:..." Festivals Tip by Sharrie

Festivals, Hong Kong: 37 reviews and 44 photos

<BR><b>CHINESE FESTIVALS IN HK:</b> (Excerpts From HKTA)<UL TYPE=square><LI><b>Lunar New Year:</b>
<BR>The Lunar New Year festival is the most important of all Chinese celebrations & marks the arrival - in spirit, at least - of spring. It is a time for spring cleaning, buying new clothes, getting a haircut, settling debts, visiting friends & relatives, taking an annual holiday & exchanging gifts. Banks, businesses & many shops close for 3 days or longer.
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<BR>Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve is the most festive day of the year in HK, when the entire family (including the spirits of the deceased) gather for a reunion dinner, bringing many family members back to HK from all over the world. Symbolic food eaten at this time includes abalone (abundance), bean sprouts (prosperity), oysters (good business), fish (surplus) & pork (prosperity).
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<BR>After the reunion dinner, a popular activity is to visit a flower market to buy peach & plum branches, which signify good luck. Kumquat trees are also popular, as 'kum' is pronounced in the same way as the Chinese word for 'gold'. The most well-known flower market is at Victoria Park on HK Island, but other smaller ones are held at Boundary Street, Sha Tin, Tai Po & Yuen Long, to name a few.
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<BR>Also on Lunar New Year's Eve, Chinese people paste to their doors pictures of the Door Gods & strips of red paper proclaiming greetings of wealth, good fortune & longevity. Another important part of the Lunar New Year holiday is the famous public fireworks display which takes place over the harbor, usually on the 2nd day of the Lunar calendar. This has its roots in a legend about a wild beast, <i>nihn</i>, which came to devour villagers. On discovering it was afraid of bright lights, the color red & loud noises, families protected themselves by painting certain objects red, ensuring their houses were brightly lit, & banging drums, gongs & bamboo crackers.
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<BR>On Lunar New Year's Day, people visit temples & hand out <i>lai see</i> ('lucky money') packets to children & unmarried men & women, accompanied by the words 'Kung Hei Fat Choy', or 'May you prosper in the new year'.
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<BR>This is also the time of the year to consult the Tung Shu (Chinese almanac), an annual publication dating back 2200 years before Christ. It includes divined information on auspicious & inauspicious days, dates of lunar festivals, numerology & fertility.
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<LI><b>Yuen Siu ('Spring Lantern') Festival:</b>
<BR>The Spring Lantern Festival marks the 15th & final day of the Lunar New Year holiday, & also the first full moon of the New Year. The holiday dates back to the Han Dynasty (206BC to AD221) & celebrates the removal from power of the hated Emperor Lu & his consort.
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<BR>It's also know as Chinese Valentine's Day because it traditionally was also a day on which young, unmarried women wore their finest clothes & ventured out with their chaperones to places where eligible young men gathered.
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<BR>Although Hong Kong's main lantern celebration takes place during the Mid-Autumn Festival, you can still see lanterns displayed in homes, shops, restaurants & temples during this Festival.
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<LI><b>Ching Ming Festival:</b>
<BR>This Confucian festival is one of the 2 annual holidays on which to honor the dead. Originating during the Han Dynasty (206BC to AD221), Ching Ming is observed by visiting ancestral graves, which are swept, washed & newly painted. Offerings of meat, fruit, wine & flowers are made, while gold & silver 'money' is burned to give the ancestors enough to spend in the afterworld.
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<BR>All Chinese cemeteries, particularly at Wo Hop Shek, Aberdeen, Happy Valley, Chai Wan & on Cheung Chau Island, are busy at this time. Many family graves are located in the New Territories & on outlying islands.
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<LI><b>Tin Hau Festival:</b>
<BR>Hong Kong's 24-plus Tin Hau temples, dedicated to Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, burst into celebration on the deity's birthday.
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<BR>The legend of Tin Hau dates back to the 12 Century when a young girl from Fujian fishing village, said to be born with mystical powers, saved her 2 brothers from drowning during a terrible storm. Today, fisherfolk pray to the goddess to ensure bountiful catches & protect them from storms & shipwrecks. Tin Hau Temple celebrations include colorful parades, Chinese opera & the sailing of hundreds of gaily festooned junks & sampans through HK's waterways.
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<LI><b>Tam Kung Festival:</b>
<BR>Tam Kung is a Taoist child-god whose powers developed when he was 12 years old. As his greatest gift was controlling the weather, he is popular with fishermen. In Shau Kei Wan on HK Island, many residents hold Tam Kung responsible for saving lives during a cholera outbreak in 1967.
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<LI><b>Birthday of Lord Buddha:</b>
<BR>This festival commemorates the birthday of Prince Siddharta Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, in the 6th Century.
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<BR>The Buddha-Bathing Ceremony takes place at the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. It involves washing Buddha's image with scented water, to symbolize the washing way of sins & a striving to attain purity & wisdom. Devotees are served rice porridge, known as 'Buddha's Bath Water'.
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<LI><b>Cheung Chau Bun Festival:</b>
<BR>This unique festival takes place on Cheung Chau Island. It is believed that restless ghosts roam this peaceful island at this time of the year. Some say they are the spirits of islanders massacred by notorious 19th-Century pirates, others say they are the spirits of animals killed & consumed during the year. The Festival takes place over 7 days & is held to placate the spirits. During the Festival, villagers eat only vegetarian food; paper houses, cars & money are burned; & food is offered to appease the ghosts' hunger.
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<BR>The festival's most spectacular symbols are 3 16-metre bamboo-&-paper towers which are covered with sweet pink & white buns. Another unique feature is a grand procession of ornately costumed children, aged from 5 to 8, who appear to 'float' at head-height among the crowds. Lion & dragon dances, Chinese opera & traditional rites at the Pak Tai Temple all give the island a carnival-like atmosphere.
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<LI><b>Tuen Ng ('Dragon Boat') Festival:</b>
<BR>This major festival commemorates the death of national hero & poet, Qu Yuen, who drowned himself in protest against a corrupt government in the 3rd Century BC. Villagers rowed towards him in a vain attempt to save his life, beating their paddles in the water to scare off fish. Rice-&-meat dumplings wrapped in leaves were also thrown into the river to feed the fish which would otherwise have eaten his body.
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<BR>Today, narrow boats decorated with the head & tail of a dragon race each other with much symbolic drum beating. You can see the same kind of bamboo leaf dumplings on sale during the Festival.
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<LI><b>Birthday of Lu Pan:</b>
<BR>Lu Pan was born in 507BC & is the Taoist patron saint of carpenters & builders. Regarded as the Chinese equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci, he is remembered as a brilliant architect, engineer & inventor credited with inventing the drill, the plane, the saw, the shovel, the lock & the ladder. His wife is said to have invented the umbrella.<BR>
<BR>People connected with the construction industry hold celebratory banquets on this day & pay their respects, traditionally at noon, at the Lu Pan Temple in Kennedy Town on HK Island, the only one in HK dedicated to this deity.
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<LI><b>7 Sisters Festival:</b>
<BR>The 7 Sisters, or Maidens', Festival stems from an ancient Chinese legend in which an orphaned cowherd was forced from his home by his brother & sister-in-law who gave him a cart, an ox & a small piece of land. His ox told him that if he stole the clothes of one of 7 maidens who visit earth to bathe in a river on a certain day, she would marry him.
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<BR>According to the legend, the cowherd did steal the 7th Maiden's clothes & the 2 fell in love & married. After 3 years of happiness, she was ordered back to heaven. Despite becoming an immortal when he eventually died, the husband was kept away from his lover by the Queen Mother of the Western Heaven, who drew the Milky Way across the sky to keep them apart. Since then, they have been allowed to visit each other only one day a year, via a bridge of a thousand magpies.
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<BR>In HK on the 6th day of the 7th lunar month, unmarried men pay homage to the cowherd. On the 7th day, unmarried women make offerings to the 7th Maiden, one of which is on a circular tray depicting the legend.
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<LI><b>Yue Lan ('Hungry Ghosts') Festival:</b>
<BR>This festival takes place to placate ghosts who have become dispossessed &, resenting this fact, could be dangerous to the earthly world. The gates of the underworld are opened & the ghosts are free to wander at will. Offerings of paper cars, furniture & money are made.
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<BR>Presiding over the celebrations is the towering paper figure of Prince Daih Su, who ensures that the ghosts are satisfied. This accomplished, he retuns to heaven in a burst of flames at the end of the Festival.
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<LI><b>Mid-Autumn Festival:</b>
<BR>This most magical of HK festivals celebrates the year's harvest. The legend behind the Festival's most enduring symbol, the mooncake, goes back to the 14th Century revolt against the Mongols who held a particular walled city. Chu Yuan-chang's deputy entered the city dressed as a Taoist priest & handed out mooncakes containing messages about the revolt. The revolt succeeded & formed the basis of the Ming Dynasty.
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<BR>During the Festival, thousands of paper lanterns are sold & throngs of people make their way to parks & public places where they light them & watch the moon in all its glory. The moon is said to be at its fullest & brightest at this time of the year.
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<LI><b>Birthday of Confucius:</b>
<BR>Although the birthday of one of China's most influential philosophers is not widely celebrated, it is nevertheless observed by many people. Confucian ethics stress self-enlightenment through the Five Virtues of charity, justice, propriety, wisdom & loyalty. Filial devotion & ancestral worship, observed during both the Ching Ming & Chung Yeung festivals, continue to be a cornerstone of Confucianist practice today.
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<LI><b>Chung Yeung Festival:</b>
<BR>This Confucian holiday is the 2nd time in the year when families visit their ancestral graves to make offerings & pray. They might then enjoy a picnic at the graveside.
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  • Written Nov 25, 2002
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