Festivals, Hong Kong
Dragon Boat Day is a wonderful, colourful festival which takes place in June each year. Dragon Boat Races are held in many locations in Hong Kong such as Stanley, Sha Tin, Mui Wo, Discovery Bay.
The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the life and death of the ancient poet, Qu Yuan, who lived from 340-278 B.C. He was appalled by state corruption and commited suicide by throwing himself in a river. When the people of his native state heard what he had done, they rushed out in their fishing boats and tried desperatedly to save him. They beat drums and splashed water in order to keep the fish and evil spirits away from his body. Then later they scattered rice into the water to prevent him from being hungry and also to feed the fishes in the river so that they would not devour his body.
I used to live in Sha Tin and watch the races on the Shing Mun River. I've also see them on Stanley Main Beach, but nowadays I am more likely to watch them in Discovery Bay since I live there. In Discovery Bay the whole event turns into a carnival with food stalls and market stalls and live musical performances. It is good fun.
CHINESE FESTIVALS IN HK: (Excerpts From HKTA)Lunar New Year:
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.
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).
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.
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, nihn, 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.
On Lunar New Year's Day, people visit temples & hand out lai see ('lucky money') packets to children & unmarried men & women, accompanied by the words 'Kung Hei Fat Choy', or 'May you prosper in the new year'.
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.
Yuen Siu ('Spring Lantern') Festival:
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.
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.
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.
Ching Ming Festival:
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.
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.
Tin Hau Festival:
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.
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.
Tam Kung Festival:
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.
Birthday of Lord Buddha:
This festival commemorates the birthday of Prince Siddharta Sakyamuni, founder of Buddhism, in the 6th Century.
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'.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival:
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.
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.
Tuen Ng ('Dragon Boat') Festival:
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.
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.
Birthday of Lu Pan:
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.
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.
7 Sisters Festival:
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.
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.
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.
Yue Lan ('Hungry Ghosts') Festival:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Birthday of Confucius:
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.
Chung Yeung Festival:
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.
According to Chinese tradition, there is this day especially for the chinese to use paper human dolls to whack on it. The paper dolls represent the person whom you don't like and you wish to put him/her on bad luck.
A small piece of pork is placed on the white tiger's mouth while you can hit the paper dolls with your shoes plus 'cursing' at the same time.
Well i am trying my best to explain in simple terms ......sorry if this sounds a bit strange.
This celebration takes place on the 15th day of the 8th moon (usually August/Sept) and celebrates a 14th century uprising against the Mongols. The conspirators wrote plans for the revolt on pieces of paper baked in cakes and then distributed them to compatriots.
Moon Cakes are one of the delicacies at this time and can be filled with sesame seeds, ground lotus seeds and sometimes a duck egg.
I went to Causeway Bay (Victoria Park) during the festival to watch the families all light their lanterns and watch the children lighting their candles.
This Chinese lantern with mobile images is displayed outside the Hong Kong Museum of Art in Tsimshatsui, and the wall banner on its right indicates an exhibition of Chinese calligraphy. A perfect match for this traditional cultural affair.
Try these link - first one is in chinese butyou can still see the pictures, the other link is the official site of HK Tourist Board.
It shows all the main festivals in HK and dates in 2009.
Main chinese festivals are:
Chinese new year
Dragon Boat Festival, here we have the international dragonboat race
Mid-Autumn Festival, meaning the full moon or lantern festival
Only-in-Hong-Kong Festival which I think the most awesome is the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, you can find more pictures here. http://www.flickr.com/photos/21172132@N07/sets/72157605064994755/
The Fire dragon dance in Tai Hang during Mid-Autumn Festival is also a must see!!
Hope the above helps.
The festival, which means clear and bright, is held on the 1st day of the 5th lunar period (usually in the beginning of April). On this day most of Hong Kong flocks up to the burial areas in the New Territories for grave sweeping. Sweeping the graves of one's ancestors is something descendents do as a sign of respect. A proper sweeping consists of three steps: cleaning the grave, making offerings to ancestors and burning ceremonial money.
According to the legend, the day is in memory of Jie Zhitui who lived in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC). At first, the festival was about Hanshi, which meant only eating cold food (no fire). It was not until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) about 300 years ago that the practice of Hanshi was replaced by that of Qingming, which had now become an important occasion for people to offer rememberances and sacrifices to their ancestors.
The roads, and all public transport, to these areas are congested and often delayed, so it is a difficult time for visitors to travel here.
Officially on falling on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (usually at the end of June), the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Double Fifth Day.
The Dragon Boat Festival combines a fast-paced sporting spectacular with a traditional festival.
The Festival, also known as Tuen Ng Festival, commemorates the death of a popular Chinese national hero, Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Mi Lo River over 2,000 years ago to protest against the corrupt rulers. Legend says that as townspeople attempted to rescue him, they beat drums to scare fish away and threw dumplings into the sea to keep the fish from eating Qu Yuan's body.
The highlight of the festival is the fierce dragon boats racing. Teams race the elaborately decorated dragon boats to the beat of heavy drums.
During West Tsin dynasty, people started to have rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival. These are basically savory or sweet rice dumplings. Each family made lots of dumplings so that there are plenty for themselves, for relatives, friends and teachers.
Buddha is worshipped by hundreds of millions throughout Asia and around the world and his birthday is celebrated with great reverence in Hong Kong. The festival celebrating the birth of Buddha, or Prince Siddhartha Sakyamuni, falls on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese calendar. It gives us all a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Chinese religion, history, culture and traditions.
In Hong Kong, one of the most popular destinations to celebrate Buddha's birthday is the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island, which is home to the famous Big Buddha. Worshippers will show their devotion by bathing Buddha's statue, which symbolizes purification of the body and mind. Followers will also congregate at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery at Sha Tin, so named for its multitude of statues of Buddha (nearer 13,000 at last count) that line the inside walls of the temple. Other celebrations will be at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium, the Chi Lin Nunnery on Diamond Hill and the Miu Fat Buddhist Monastery in the New Territories
The most important festival on the Chinese calendar is Chinese New Year. It is the most celebrated festival and marks the beginning of the new lunar calendar. During this period, the city is full of excitement and colour - it glows with colourful lights, huge flower markets, a waterfront parade, a spectacular fireworks display and action-packed Chinese New Year's horseracing. Spring pilgrimages are also highly popular as devotees head to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple and Che Kung Temple, making their wishes or checking out their fortunes for the coming year. Celebrations will continue until Day 15, the Spring Lantern Festival, also known locally as Chinese Valentine's Day. Traditional lanterns are lit in temples and parks and families and couples gather to enjoy a memorable evening. This marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.
Chinese New Year is a family occasion, but it's also a great time for visitors as the festival is packed with exciting events and colourful programmes.
Lion Dance during Chinese New Year, old calender Jan 1st
Street decoration in Kowloon side during Chinese New Year season.
the children were playing Ping Pong / table tennis at the residential near by Tsu Wan San
pulm reading at the road side. If you have been told that you are GOOD, then try your luck immediately at Macau casino.
Tuen Ng Festival on Chinese Calendar 5th of May ( i.e. 15.6 for 2002) is a festival to commenorate Qu Yuan, the Chinese poet and statesman who died two thousand years ago when jumped to the Mi Lo River as a protest against a corrupt government. The villagers then raced out in their boats and beating their onboard drums in the hope of getting out there as fast as possible. That's the origin for the dragon boat racing each year. When they got to the point where he was washed away, they threw the rice dumplings into the river to distract the hungry fish, believing that this would save his drowned body from being nibbled away.
Being in Hong Kong during a major Chinese festival can be an unforgettable experience. The residents celebrate all its festivals with a grand passion and there seems to be at least a festival celebrated every month -
Chinese New Year (usually in end-Jan or early-Feb) **
Yuen Siu (Spring Lantern festival in Feb) popularly referred to as the Chinese Valentine's Day.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival (April or May)
Tuen Ng (Dragon Boat) Festival (June) **
Mid-Autumn Festival (Sept) ** etc.
Personal favorites are highlighted with a double asterisk..
June 1st 2014 was Dragon Boat Day. After the races in Discovery Bay there was entertainment from this group of Chinese drummers. Discovery Bay is one of several venues where you can watch the races. It has a carnival atmosphere with entertainment, food stalls and market stalls.
Lai See packets are generally red envelopes (although gold is a secondary colour) that contain money.
It is good luck to give and receive these packets just after the Chinese New Year. (Generally in late January).
You should give them to sub-ordinates and unmarried friends.
You should not give them to your Boss (he would be offended) or married peers.
Normally you would expect to find a new HK$20 in the packet.
If you are lucky you will find $100 or more depending on the wealth/generousity of the giver.