Local traditions and culture in Macao

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Macao

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    A world of Smoke

    by solopes Updated Dec 19, 2013

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    In some Portuguese churches (and mainly in Fatima) we are used to the continuous views of wax burning, with the resultant smell and smoke. In Chinese temples they "exaggerate".

    The smoke is permanent and abundant, with mixed smells, but always turning the air hard to breed. In A Ma temple the rule is followed, but most of the smoke is produced in the open air, easing breeding.

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    Gambling

    by solopes Updated Jan 25, 2011

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    In my university time I shared one students' residential with colleges from overseas, some of them from Macao. I was surprised by the coincidence that they all were gambling fanatics. Later on I read that it was a Chinese tradition, and Macao is a remarkable confirmation.

    Casinos grow like mushrooms, but I don't know how many Chinese, with all their restrictions, do manage to travel to a still autonomic territory.

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    Dong1 zhi4 Festival (Winter Solstice Festival)

    by ntm2322 Written Jan 1, 2008

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    This festival is one of the most important Chinese festivals and is celebrated on or around December 22 (in 2007 it was on December 22). And this is exactly the time when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest (it actually marks the first day of the Dong1 zhi4 solar term).

    The Dong1 zhi4 Festival is also a time for the family to get together, it is a time for family reunion.

    In northern China people eat dumplings on Dong1 zhi4 and in the south, like Macau and Hong Kong, people eat tang1 yuan2 (balls of glutinous rice flour plain or stuffed with ground peanuts or black sesame seeds plunged into a sweet soup made of water, ginger and rock sugar) which symbolizes reunion.

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    Double Ninth Festival (Chong2 Yang2 Jie2)

    by ntm2322 Written Oct 20, 2007

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    The 9th day of the 9th month (October 20th, 2007) in the lunar calendar (also called the chrysanthemum month because it starts blooming and the best chrysanthemum wine is made from the 9th month’s flowers) is a double Yang day, hence the name Chong Yang Festival or Double Ninth Festival (in Chinese Chong means “repeat” or “double”).

    This festival is also called the "Elderly's Festival". Double nine signifies longevity and this day is a special day for people not only to pay their respects to the elderly but also for the elderly to participate and enjoy in several activities during the day as a mean to improve their health.

    This festival also occurs when winter is approaching and people start arranging warmer clothes, not only for them but also for their ancestors. On this day many Chinese like to climb mountains (climbing mountains is also related to getting higher in one's career) to mark the festival and they will visit the graves of their ancestors and provide them some warm clothes (clothes made of paper and burnt as offerings).

    People also like to appreciate chrysanthemum flowers and enjoy the nice weather.

    In Macau there are some traditional cakes that people can buy on the day of this festival (in Chinese, the word “cake” and the word “high” have the same sound gao1, either for eating or for offering to their ancestors when visiting their graves

    Some of the customs that no longer exist here (probably in other parts of China are still enjoyed) include:

    - Carrying a spray of dogwood when hiking or climbing mountains (this plant has a strong flagrance and it is related to warm the body and prevent one from getting a cold in late autumn).

    - Drink chrysanthemum wine (related to living longer). The Chinese word for wine is jiu3, a homonym of the Chinese word for "long" that symbolizes longevity.

    - Family get-together and outdoor activities, an occasion to remember their ancestors and express their love for the living and loved ones,

    - Kite flying, etc.

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    Footgear at the door, please!

    by ntm2322 Written Oct 17, 2007

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    Chinese people have a bunch of good hygienic habits that western people should learn from.

    When you are invited to visit a Chinese family you should know that before walking in you should take off your footgear.

    They know that in your country you can roam around the whole house with the same foot apparel that you outside and might have stepped on a dog’s piece of ***, so just as a kind of politeness they might tell you, followed by a generous smile, that you don’t need to take them off.

    Please, you do insist and take your shoes or sandals off. The hosts will be very happy for your token of respect and they will immediately give you a pair of slippers to put on.

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    Chinese red envelopes

    by ntm2322 Written Oct 15, 2007

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    The Chinese red envelopes are called hong2 bao1 in Mandarin and are popular gifts for any occasion. They symbolize luck and wealth. In western countries people use presents to mark the occasion, in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau most of the time red envelopes (with money inside, of course) are used.

    When offering a red envelope to somebody it must be done with both hands and expressing some wishes at the same time (Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday, Congratulations, Good Health, etc.). On the other hand, people who receive the red envelope must receive it with both hands and express his/her gratitude (a simple word of thank you is good enough). Never refuse a red envelope.

    When offering a red envelope never put coins like little change or dirty, creased bank bills inside, instead, use “good-looking” bank bills.
    How much to give it depends of you and the degree of intimacy you have with the person you want to give the red envelope to.

    Many Chinese people use red envelopes in their own houses for good luck, they usually place red envelopes under small tangerines. In this case coins are used instead of bank bills.

    Let’s see another example. It is Chinese New Year. If you are a single person you are not supposed to hand out any red envelopes, just sit and wait for them. If you are married you are supposed to carry with you a generous bunch of red envelopes for the whole week to distribute them and expect to receive a few only from your mother-in-law and father-in-law.

    In office, it is the same. If you are married you should give red envelopes to your colleagues’ children and if you have a child they will do the same to you. You should also give a red pocket to your single co-workers but once again, because you are married you will receive none.

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    National Day

    by ntm2322 Updated Oct 6, 2007

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    In Tian’anmen Square, October 1st of the year of 1949 at three o’clock in the afternoon, Chairman Mao Ze Dong declared the founding of the People's Republic of China and the red five-star flag was raised for the first time.

    Today, October 1st of 2007, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau celebrate its 58th anniversary with several activities, including the flag’s raising, marathons, fireworks, etc. And throughout China public places are usually decorated in a tone related to the National Day where red is the predominant color.

    In this period the weather is also very nice, so many people who don’t go travel just take the day off to stay at home or go out for outdoor activities.

    The National Day holidays are basically one week off for millions of Chinese and during this period they travel domestically and internationally.

    It means that if you are planning to catch a few domestic flights in China during the National Day holidays (the week around October 1st) to visit some of the major tourist hot spots in China you should book your tickets and hotel reservations months before your trip.

    My best advice: this is the best time to visit Macau because many locals during this period either go back to the mainland to visit their families or they will be traveling in nearby Asia countries.

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    Moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival

    by ntm2322 Written Oct 1, 2007

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    The Mid-Autumn Festival was originally a harvest festival and on this day people used to eat all kinds of fruits and round moon cakes. Nowadays the tradition is still well alive. People gather together with family members and friends (this year of 2007 it was in September 25th) at dinner time and then later go out and watch the moon, eat fruits and moon cakes.

    Special foods eaten in the Mid-Autumn Festival include:

    - Moon cakes

    - Cooked taro

    - Edible snails from the taro patches

    - Water caltrop (a type of water chestnut resembling black buffalo horns)

    - Rice paddies cooked with sweet basil and

    - Fruits (apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, pomelos, etc.)

    There are several versions about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the origins of the moon cakes; you may read them in the link I provide down here.

    The traditional moon cakes are made with sweet fillings of

    - Nuts (wu3 ren2)

    - Mashed red beans (dou4 sha1)

    - Lotus-seed paste (lian2 rong2) or

    - Chinese dates (zao3 ni2)

    - with or without a cooked egg yolk inserted in the middle.

    Nowadays, there are all varieties of moon cakes, some of them made with the most exotic fruits like durian or if you like tea you might buy green tea moon cakes. They now also target different kinds of people, like vegetarians, health-conscious folks (like me), diabetes, etc. and now they come for the “big sale” about one month before the festival starts.

    Besides buying moon cakes to eat in the Mid-Autumn Festival, people also buy them to offer as presents to friends, family members, clients, etc.

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    Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

    by ntm2322 Written Sep 29, 2007

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    The Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival celebrated in the Chinese World, no matter in which country, on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. In the Western calendar it usually occurs between the 2nd week of September and the 2nd week of October (in 2007 it was in September 25th but in 2008 it will be in September 14th).

    On this day the moon is full and its round shape represents reunion, therefore, this festival is also known as the Festival of Reunion.

    In this special day all family members try to get together. If not possible one should at least be outside at night and gaze at the moon, thinking of his family and friends, this way they could still be together.

    This is a really good time for children, they are all happy. In Macau people like to go to the parks and beaches or stay alongside the river. All children are happy. Their parents carry the bags with the fruits, moon cakes, drinks, etc. and the children carry the beautiful shaped lit lanterns. After founding a nice place and have settled down, people play for a while, chat with each other, tell jokes, sing, etc., and then start munching away and enjoy the full moon. There is also a nice display of fireworks late in the evening.

    The Mid-Autumn Festival was originally a harvest festival and on this day people used to eat all kinds of fruits and round moon cakes.

    Special foods eaten in the Mid-Autumn Festival include:

    - Moon cakes

    - Cooked taro

    - Edible snails from the taro patches

    - Water caltrop (a type of water chestnut resembling black buffalo horns)

    - Rice paddies cooked with sweet basil and

    - Fruits (apples, oranges, pears, peaches, grapes, pomegranates, melons, pomelos, etc.)

    There are several versions about the Mid-Autumn Festival and the origins of the moon cakes; you may read them in the link I provide down here.

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    Slower and easier lifestyle

    by SLLiew Updated Aug 20, 2007

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    Compared with bustling Hong Kong, life in Macau is a little bit slower and easier.

    Perhaps because Macau was under Portuguese rule for four centuries. The slower Iberian lifestyle compared to British urgency created a contrast.

    Though there are now more newer buildings, this "older" photo with a Portuguese flag shows part of Macau with tree lined roads and the good old carefree days.

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    Macau Currency - Macanese Pataca (MOP)

    by SLLiew Written Oct 5, 2006

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    Pataca is "peso" in Portuguese. Macau was a Portuguese Colony.

    Exchange is: 1 USD = 8.03 Macanese Pataca (pegged to HK Dollar)

    100 avos = 1 Macanese Pataca

    Coins: 10, 20, 50 avos
    MOP$1, MOP$2, MOP$5, MOP$10

    Banknotes:
    MOP$10, MOP$20, MOP$50,
    MOP$100, MOP$500, MOP$1000

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    Portugese, Chinese, or English?

    by rachel_simhon Written Oct 14, 2005

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    Due to its cosmopolitan past and its recent development as a tourist destination, it's not surprising to hear a variety of different languages spoken in Macau. As a Spanish speaker who has difficulties reading Chinese, I found it refreshing that the I could at least understand the meaning of the street signs, all still labelled in Portugese. Many Macanese also speak rather passable English, though I've found that any attempts to use Mandarin fall on the deaf (or unwilling) ears of these native Cantonese speakers!

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    Street Signs

    by ahoerner Written Jul 6, 2005

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    Quite interesting are the street signs all over Macau. They are in Portuguese style, blue letters over white tiles, and names are written in both Portuguese and Chinese.
    This is even more interesting for the one who already has been to Northeastern Brazil, where one may find the street signs in exactly the same style, due to the Portuguese colonization. See my São Luis page for more details.

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    Small shrines

    by ahoerner Written Jul 6, 2005

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    Small Buddhist shrines can be found almost everywhere in Macau. They can pass almost unnoticed to the normal tourist seeking the main attractions, but they are easily “discovered” on the streets or inside buildings if you pay little bit more attention.

    Here on some street.

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    Chopsticks Etiquettes

    by xuessium Written Apr 29, 2005

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    Never ever stick your chopsticks straight up in your bowl of rice. Not only it's rude, chopsticks stuck straight up in a bowl of rice also resembles jossticks in an urn which is only meant for funerals. Never ever do this during a banquet or during a hosted meal.

    Also, never use a chopstick to point at something, most least a person. Very rude.

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