Hong Kong Culture and People

Moon Cakes are a popular snack during the Mid-Autumn festival

Hong Kong has original culture that cannot be seen in mainland China . Despite Hong Kong was ruled by the British government and is an international city, traditional Chinese cultural influence is everywhere. Most of the Hong Kong Chinese are either Buddhists or Taoists. There are more than 600 temples outside Hong Kong , built in residential areas.

Once can have his fortune told at some of these temples with a nominal fee. Temples are also crowded with worshippers who light joss sticks to ward off evil spirits during festivities.

The ancient Hong Kong can be revisited through the country’s museums. Many of the exhibits highlight local history, Chinese arts, and crafts. A 2,000-year-old tomb, traditional hardwood furniture, ancient Chinese ceramics, and classic lithographs are all available for you to witness.

There are also abundance of Chinese festivals throughout the year all over Hong Kong . The most obvious are Chinese festivals. The most celebrated ones are Chinese New Year, Ching Ming Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. Most of them are made public holidays but there are some religious ones or traditions are celebrated as well even though it is not a public holiday.

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is one of the most celebrated festival in Hong Kong . This is such a big festival that most shops and small restaurants will be closed on those 3 days and some up to 8 days. Many industries, particularly printing and construction, tend to close for even longer as many of the works are from the Mainland of China and will take long trips back to their home towns during this time to visit family.

Every year there are big markets in many districts in Hong Kong . The biggest one is probably the one in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay . The market typically runs a few days before the lunar new year and last until dawn of the first lunar new year day. The day before the lunar new year is the busiest and most crowded moment for the market. Flower kiosks occupy half of the market, selling peach blossoms, chrysanthemum, daffodils, orchids and various kinds of flowers are available. Snacks, toys and various kinds of junk occupy the rest of the market.

Chinese New Year is also celebrated with spectacular display of fireworks in Victoria Harbor.

Ching Ming Festival

The Ching Ming festival is celebrated in April and is known as “Remembrance of Ancestors Day”. This day is devoted to honouring relatives who died. Thousands of Chinese visit cemeteries to clean the graves of their loved ones. The Chinese hold great respect for their ancestors and the young are taught to pray to, and for, the family spirits. Food like roasted suckling pig, steamed chicken, fruit and wine are offered during the ceremony.

The “willow” is regarded as the symbol of light and enemy of darkness in Chinese culture. On Ching Ming, some superstitious people even carry willow branches with them or hang it on the front door. It’s believed that willows help to get rid of evil spirits, when Ching Ming is one of the days that ghosts and spirits wander about.
Dragon Boat Festival

The Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival is undoubtedly one of Hong Kong ‘s most popular events, drawing thousands of spectators and racing teams from across the globe. The popularity of this event is growing at a surprising rate throughout the world but especially in the USA , Canada and Europe .

The sport itself dates back some 2,000 years and has as its origins an ancient Chinese legend. As the story goes, there was a well-loved statesman and poet by the name of Qu Yuan who lived in the Kingdom of Chu during the 4th century B.C. Although this popular figure was a favorite of the people, he found himself banished from the court at the advice of corrupt officials.

Unhappy and in deep despair, Qu Yuan roamed the countryside writing poetry about his love of the country and its people. Unable to bear his sorrow any longer, or perhaps as a final protest against corruption and a plea to the Emperor, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Mi Lo River.

Local fishermen raced out in their boats in an attempt to save him but arrived too late. In order to lure fish away from the body, they beat the water with their paddles and tossed rice dumplings into the river.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival or Moon Festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Chinese people believe that on that day, the moon is the biggest, roundest and brightest. And the term round implies family reunion in Chinese. So the Moon Festival is a festival for members of a family to get together wherever it is possible.

“Mooncakes” are also an important part of the festivities. Many years ago in the 14th Century, a revolt against the Mongols developed, and messages of the revolution were written on paper, then baked into the cakes. The secret messages were smuggled to the revolutionists. Things are much tamer now, and the mooncakes are given to friends and relatives during the festival. These pastries are a mixture of ground lotus, mashed beans, sesame seeds and dates.

Traditionally, children carried lanterns of animal shapes lit by candles. As darkness approaches, the hills of Hong Kong , Victoria Park, the Peak, and the beaches are shimmering with the glow of lantern lights. It seems as though a sprinkling of stars have descended on Hong Kong .

Opera is an important part of Chinese culture for hundreds of years. Certain shows in rural areas can last anywhere from 3 – 4 hours to five days. The music played in Chinese opera is too, somewhat interesting to people outside the societal boundary. The Chinese use a lot of glittering costumes and heavy makeup is applied on the faces of the actors/actresses.

Film industry is well known to foreign countries. Hong Kong produces more films than any other part of China put together. Although censorship under British rule did exist, it was light, and Hong Kong grew up to be one of the movie capitals of Asia . Hong Kong produces a large number of films of the human-interest sort.

Leisure and culture provide opportunities for the people of Hong Kong to enrich the quality of their lives. The Government nurtures an environment in which freedom of creativity, pluralistic development of the arts, sporting excellence and recreation for the community can thrive.

Hong Kong hosts a variety of cultural and leisure events, including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, International Arts Festival, Thematic Arts Festival, the Hong Kong Flower Show and traditional festival celebration programmed.

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