Traditional Chinese vacations are the most important Hong Kong holidays. They take place according to the lunar calendar, which means they are scheduled on different dates every year. To find out the dates for a specific year, check the government website.
In late January or early February, when the New Year begins according to the lunar calendar, you will experience the most exciting of all Hong Kong holidays: Chinese New Year. Daily life comes to a complete standstill while the city indulges in spectacular celebrations. The International Chinese New Year Parade and the fireworks on the second day are definitely a must-see.
Chinese New Year is the Hong Kong holiday equivalent of Christmas, with plenty of family time, visiting friends, and traditional meals. Temples are open 24 hours, allowing constant worship. This is meant to bring luck to you and your family for the following year.
Rituals are also designed to bring you success and prosperity. You shouldn’t clean your house, in case you sweep the good luck out. You should eat lots of candy, to bring in a sweeter year, and use plenty of the color red: the ultimate lucky charm.
One other important tradition on Chinese New Year is the giving of so-called “Lai See” gifts, which literally translates to “lucky money”. These are small red envelopes containing a single banknote, and given to people to provide both giver and receiver with luck. Generally, seniors give the envelopes to juniors, parents to children, and married couples to single friends.
Other fascinating traditional Hong Kong holidays dominate the calendar. A key one is the Ching Ming Festival on April 5th, for ancestral worship. Locals visit the graves of their ancestors, cleaning them and offering wine and fruit. Chung Yeung Festival, one of the autumn Hong Kong holidays, is also for paying respect to ancestors.
The Dragon Boat Festival, in early summer, is also one of the most important Hong Kong holidays. Watch dragon boats race off the shore, as locals commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a Chinese hero who drowned himself in protest of corrupt rulers over 2,000 years ago.
On the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated as a popular Hong Kong holiday. Lanterns are lit and families enjoy ‘moon cakes’.
Finally, the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival is celebrated on December 22nd, and is the last of the annual Hong Kong holidays. It marks the date on which the Northern hemisphere experiences the shortest daytime and longest nighttime, so it is considered the turning point of the year, after which darkness and cold will give way to light and warmth. For locals, this is a day to wear brand-new clothes, visit family and celebrate together until late at night.
There are two specifically political Hong Kong holidays: July 1st, which is the holiday to commemorate the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in 1997 and the National Day of China on October 1st.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day means a day off for everyone and is usually celebrated with gigantic fireworks down at Victoria Harbor. However, the political significance of the day is also used as a platform for annual rallies organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, demanding universal suffrage and calling for the preservation of civil liberties.
Since the handover in 1997, National Day is celebrated in Hong Kong as a statutory holiday. During the day, there are a variety of ceremonies, parades and community events throughout the city, once again finishing off with one of Hong Kong’s spectacular firework shows.
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