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Settling into Hong Kong’s Traditions during the Lunar New Year

Guest Blog: Samantha Luce

I am a Junior in college studying abroad in Hong Kong for the Spring of 2013. These are my adventures.

Post from Tuesday, February 12th

Because of the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) on Sunday, we actually get this whole week off from school. While the festivities were on the small side (CNY is considered a family holiday), there was still a parade and other more low-key activities for celebrating the Year of the Snake.

On Monday I went to the Wishing Tree Festival in New Territories. There is a tradition where you write your hopes for the new year on a paper and tie it to an orange before throwing it into the tree. If your wish catches it will come true!

The tradition has changed slightly: the tree is now a copy of the original (which you can see in the photo is dead looking now) and the orange is plastic (so you don’t belt small children in the head with oranges).

Chinese-Throw Orange

It took me about 11 tries before my “hopes” caught in the tree, which is why I look so victorious in the photo below. I really hope it isn’t a bad sign that it took me so long! I will just guess that it means I have to work hard this year (and being at University of Hong Kong, this may not be a bad assumption!)

Chinese-Orange

After the Wishing Tree Festival, Pui-Chi and I headed over to Shatin to see the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery. In reality there are 13,000+ buddhas there.

The monastery is on the top of a large hill, and it was a steep hike up (430 steps!). But it was worth the climb because we passed many gold buddhas on the way, and were met with stunning views. The temple was busy because of the holiday but that didn’t take away from its absolute beauty and peaceful ambiance. We poked our heads in the various temples which literally had walls lined from ceiling to floor with thousands of mini Buddhas, each differing in pose and expression (based on the donors of the statues).

Overall it was a great experience, and the view from the top was truly amazing. See, Hong Kong is a very modern city, and there is a strong Western influence on it (probably from being under British rule for nearly half a century), so it’s nice to see some of the more traditional Eastern culture still being valued and expressed.

Temple

Before coming to Hong Kong I had never been inside a Buddhist temple, now I feel as if I have been in hundreds. It is such a beautiful religion, and I love being in a city where I am able to learn more about the Buddha’s teachings from both a Western and an Eastern view point. I guess that’s why they say studying abroad really broadens your perspectives!

Until next time 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. Letha says:

    Thank you for making the honest attempt to write about this.
    It may be extremely helpful for me as well as my friends.

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