When thinking of Hong Kong, a few images came to mind: high rises and a beautiful skyline, the freest economy on earth, one of the world’s leading financial centers, and a Westernized Asian city.
Hong Kong is certainly very dear to my heart as it is the wonderful city where I was born. It is a place where the East meets the West.
With a population of 7.4 million, and with some 94% of it being ethnic Chinese, the East part of the equation is established. Hong Kong was a British colony from 1841 until 1997, when it reverted back to China. The 150+ years of British rule no doubt infused a great deal of Western flavor to the city, the other part of my equation.
Business and economy aside, I want to show you the Eastern aspect of Hong Kong which totally emerges during the once-a-year Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year.
I remember how excited I was as a child at the eve of the Spring Festival – the big feast with the whole family, and new things for the new year. I would at least have a new face towel, a new toothbrush, and possibly new clothes. I could eat a lot of candies and get many red pockets (special red envelops usually filled with cash). My mother would line up these new things for us after we all went to sleep and after she got everything prepared to welcome the new year. I would even secretly get up in the middle of the night just to peek at the color of my new face towel!
I was in Hong Kong for the Spring Festival. I ran into a lion dance in Causeway Bay, and I decided that I should go to a local wet market just to get a feel of the festive spirit. I was in North Point. I saw shopkeepers and shoppers exchanging lucky greetings; flowers, food, and festival goods were all lined up and before the end of the day, they were mostly gone – from market to home.
Though the Spring Festival should be officially over after the 15th day of the lunar calendar, it ended a lot earlier in Hong Kong – the fourth day, as that is when people needed to return to work, and life is back to its hectic normal.
I have promised mom that I will be in Hong Kong next year to spend Spring Festival with her. I am actively checking out airfares now.
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