by: Wong Yee
Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year
It is usually in the winter of a year. The exact
date would follow the one in Lunar Calendar. Entering the New Year
month, every family would clean and tidy both the inside and the outside
of their houses. New Year food would also be prepared. 'Lin Gao', the
Chinese cake symbolizing the rise of family every year, would be a must.
New Year couplets would be displayed around house. All families would be
busy until the New Year's Eve and a big New Year eve's dinner would be
served for the gathering to welcome the beginning of a New Year.
Children and unmarried adults would love the occasion because red
packets would be given to them from all married couples and older
generations. As a tradition, on the first few days of the first lunar
month, people would spend their time visiting relatives and friends.
Spring Lantern Festival/ Yuen Siu Festival
It is also known as the Chinese Valentine's Day
and it marks the end of the Chinese New Year. Young couples would
celebrate on this day. Lanterns of different designs would be hung in
Ching Ming Festival (March/April)
It is a day when people pay their visits to the
graves of your ancestors. Joss sticks, incense and paper offerings would
be burnt for the dead people. Roasted while piglets, steamed chicken,
fruit and wine would be offered to the dead too. Some people tend to
bring chrysanthemum instead of those mentioned above, so remember not to
give chrysanthemum to Chinese people. It is said the it is also a day
when the dead wander about above ground and so sometimes people carry
willow branches or hang them outside their doors on this day to scare
away the ghosts.
Birthday of Tin Hau (April/May)
It is not a very big festival but a very important
one for the people living on fishing islands. It is a festival to show
respect to the Goddess of the Sea, Tin Hau for good catches in the sea
and a safe year ahead.
Cheung Chau Bun Festival (April/May)
It is a festival which belongs to the Cheung Chau
Island. In the past, people climbed bun towers built with bamboos which
were covered with blessed buns outside. The higher people climbed on it
meant the more luck they would receive in the year. Since the accident
happened in 1978, this competition was no longer allowed. People on the
island would keep vegetarian for three days during the festival.
Dragon Boat Festival (June)
It is a festival to show respect to a patriotic
scholar - Chu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against his emperor.
Rice dumpling, which is popular during the festival, is made of
glutinous rice, salted meat with a salty egg yolk and wrapped with
bamboo leaves. It is believed that these dumplings would scare away any
fish which would harm the body of Chu Yuan after him jumping into the
sea. However, some believe that dragon boat festival started before the
death of Chu Yuan. The dragon boat has the head and a tail of a dragon.
Since the dragon is the god of the water world, After the dragon boats
sail in the water, the water will be blessed. It is also a tradition for
people to wash their hair and body with the blessed water on the day so
as to be blessed for the coming year.
Hungry Ghost Festival (August/September)
It is the time when the gate of Hell opens and all
ghosts will come to the earth. People would offer roasted pork, steamed
chicken, and fruits to the ghosts. They would also burn paper offerings
to the dead in the streets. It is also said that people should not walk
or respond to anybody calling them when walking in the street at night.
Mid-Autumn Festival (September/October)
Moon cake is the gift you give to your friends and
relatives at the festival. Apart from that, salted sausages and star
fruit are other popular gifts. It is the happiest for the children
because they would enjoy walking in the streets with their lanterns.
'Wax-boiling' has become very popular but the government in Hong Kong
has made it forbidden after many accidents from burning wax. Of course
people would make use of the chance to look at the full moon on the day
on their balconies or just at home. Traditional moon cakes are made with
sweet lotus seed paste with one or more egg yolks. Modern moon cakes
come in various styles. Tastes like green tea, red beans, hams and nuts,
or even moon cake ice-cream are all available. Just name it and you may
Chung Yeung Festival (September/October)
There has been a legend from the East Han Dynasty.
A man was told to leave home and go to a hill top of the date to avoid a
disaster which would kill all lives there. So he left home with his
family and drank chrysanthemum wine as he had been told. When he came
back after the day, he found that all livestock were killed. Since then,
after almost 2000 years, it is believed that it is a day when people
should leave home and show their respect to their ancestors on the day.