Celebrating Festivals As proud advocates for cultural diversity and customs, we embrace the different festivals celebrated in Hong Kong and worldwide. Festivals began as a way to pass on legends and traditions to newer generations. Today, they are a glorious way to celebrate heritage and memorable moments with those who truly matter most to us. Although they are often holidays, festivals are a deeply profound part of our identity and play an important role in many people’s sense of belonging. Festivals also come with the added bonus of breaking the monotony of daily routine. They give us something to look forward to and rejoice in. They also give us a gentle reminder about what’s important in this life. Dragon Boat Festival The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Tuen Ng, is no exception. It falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. This year, that works out to Monday 14th of June. The festival commemorates the life and death of Qu Yuan, a national hero who was a Chinese poet and minister, known for his patriotism and contributions to classical poetry. The legend goes, that Qu Yuan’s intelligence annoyed the other court officials and so they accused him of false charges of conspiracy. The king believed the charges and exiled Qu Yuan. It was during his exile that Qu Yuan composed his famous poems which expressed his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign and his people. Sadly, at the age of 61, Qu Yuan eventually ended his life by drowning himself. He attached a heavy stone to his chest and jumped into the Miluo River. The people of Chu believed that he was an honourable man and tried their best to save him. Despite their efforts, and searching in their boats, they were unable to find and rescue him. Although the rescue attempt was unsuccessful, the Dragon Boat Festival celebrates the attempt. The local people began the tradition of throwing sacrificial cooked rice into the river for Qu Yuan. Others believe that the rice prevents the fish in the river from eating Qu Yuan’s body. The festival has always been recognised as a cultural holiday in China but only in 2008 did it become a traditional and statutory public holiday. Today, even in Hong Kong, we celebrate this holiday by relaxing with loved ones and enjoying our time off. The Dragon Boat Competitions The Dragon Boat is a long canoe that mimics old war canoes. They vary in size, holding from 20 to 80 people. To add to the theatre of the events, the crew in these boats, paddle to the beat of a drum. It is an exciting day in Hong Kong where lots of competitions are held. The CCB Hong Kong International Dragon Boat Races in Victoria Harbour is the biggest competition with as many as 4000 athletes and thirty thousand fans watching - if the weather allows it. Our best local teams from the various district races participate in this event, competing against international teams. The local teams represent universities, police, government organizations, and more. Unfortunately, Covid-19 restrictions might hamper this years festivities but we look forward to the event continuing as normal in years to come.
Why Festivals are Important
Festivals like the Dragon Boat Festival connect us as people. Those students who are familiar with the festivities enjoy explaining the excitement to their friends from other countries. We celebrate this shared cultural experience and embrace its inclusive message. Accepting and even participating in the festivals of other cultures, help us to spread the message of love, tolerance and understanding. This is a message that is close to our hearts and the students at ME education enjoy learning and sharing different traditions, customs and practices.