Hong Kong is a distinctive administrative district of People’s Republic of China (PRC) which embraces the principle “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong is southeast of China on the Pearl River Estuary and the South China Sea. In the past, the city was a part of China, but then became a British Colony and during World War II was occupied by Japan. In 1997, Great Britain returned the city to China through the Sino-British Joint Declaration that was signed in 1984.
Besides being known for its fast economic development and population growth, Hong Kong is also well-known for its unique culture. This culture is a combination the East and the West. The eastern culture comes from China, while the western culture was inherited from the British. The eastern heritage can be seen through the architecture of Hong Kong. For instance, new buildings are always built according to feng shui. Ba Gua mirrors are used to reject negative energy. Buildings do not have fourth floors because the number four is auspicious. The influence of western culture is found in Hong Kong’s food such as fast food and haute cuisine. Hong Kong also celebrates western holidays like Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
In addition to the western holidays, Hong Kong also celebrates traditional festivals, including four festivals in the spring:
• Tin Hau Festival is an annual celebration that takes place at Tin Hau temples in Hong Kong. Tin Hau is the goddess of the sea and the protector of fisherman. During this festival, Hong Kong residents pray together for security, safety, fine weather, and plentiful fish.
• Cheung Chau Bun is the most famous Da Jiu festival and is held annually, usually in early May. The festival began as a ritual for fishing communities to pray for safety from pirates. There are parades, a lion dance, and music. But its name comes from the “bun towers”, which are three 60-foot tall bamboo towers covered with buns. Young men race up the tower the towers to grab the buns. The higher the bun, the better fortune it brings to the man’s family.
• Buddha’s Birthday is typically in May. This festival celebrates Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism. The festival is often called the Buddha Bathing Festival because one of the rituals is to “bathe” the Buddhas.
• Tam Kung’s Birthday is also in May. Tam Kung, or Lord Tam, is the sea god. He is the patron deity of fisherman and other seafarers along with Tin Hau.
The Tam Kung Temple has a statue of Tam Kung, portraying the body of an 80 year old man and the face of a 12 year old boy. According to popular belief, when he was only 12 years old, Tam Kung could cure the sick and foretell the weather.
Another example of East meeting West in Hong Kong is Cantopop music, which is pop music usually sung in Cantonese but influenced by international styles, like jazz, rock and roll, and Western pop music. It was developed a composer singer from Shanghai who moved to Hong Kong. In order to maintain Hong Kong’s culture, the government builds cultural institutions, such as the Hong Kong History Museum, Hong Kong Arts Museum, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.
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