Wednesday, 20 February 2013

on the eighth day

Chinese New Year is over for another year. The ‘Spring Festival’ continues in the rest of China until the weekend, but Hong Kong went back to work last Thursday (only the first three days of the new year count as public holidays). However, we had two more events to celebrate on the eighth day of the new year (eight is, according to the Chinese, a lucky number): blessing the roast pigs and the village dinner.

Paula and I spent a lot of time during the holiday period trying to establish a cycle route to the wetland areas in the northwest of the New Territories, which I plan to write about in the next few days, and we also attended the fireworks display over Victoria Harbour on the second day of the new year. I missed last year’s display, mainly because I didn’t fancy standing around for two hours with a full-length plaster on my leg, but without such an encumbrance it was, as usual, well worth the wait. Also as usual, the organizers included several new effects, and while I’ve not seen the displays put on by other cities, they would have to be exceptional to surpass Hong Kong’s efforts, which involve firing more than a thousand shells a minute into the air for 22–23 minutes. The big mystery is why so many spectators faff about trying to shoot video of the display, an endeavour at which they may be successful, but only by sacrificing any immediate enjoyment of the spectacle.

For the first time, we had firecrackers to accompany the blessing of the roast pigs, which were then consumed immediately, as per tradition. I have to say that this type of roast pork is absolutely delicious, and I probably ate more than I should have done, but it is difficult to resist. The eleven-course village dinner was actually a lunch this year, mainly because some residents complained that it was too cold at night, although this winter has been exceptionally mild, and the main problem with a daytime meal is that there is no entertainment. I missed last year’s dinner too, for the same reason that I missed the fireworks, so it was good to get involved in the celebrations once again.

Here are a few photos from the ceremony to bless the roast pigs:

A makeshift altar has been set up to bless the roast pigs. Red, in case you hadn’t guessed it, is a lucky colour to the Chinese, which is why so-called ‘lucky money’ (lai see), a traditional gift at this time of year, is always placed in a red packet.

Don’t stand too close. This string of firecrackers is about to get considerably more violent.

I’m not really carving the pig, merely posing for the camera.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks Dennis.
    Interesting. Love the idea of the blessing followed by a village meal. Sounds like those pigs taste better with a jolly good blessing?
    An 11-course long lunch is definitely my style.

    Enjoyed the snaps too Dennis.
    Cheers, ic

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    Replies
    1. Any excuse to eat Ian, that’s the Chinese. The pigs taste better with a beer (or two).

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  2. Sounds like a marvelous celebration, Dennis. Careful with that axe, er, carving knife :-D

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    Replies
    1. Kris, several people have commented that I look as if I’m about to pick up the chopper and throw it at someone. You can see why I was so disappointed to miss the celebrations last year.

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  3. Ah Dennis, that pig looks so delicious, I can just imagine how it tastes too. I like the idea of the village getting together to have a dinner or lunch, it gives it a nice community spirit and you get to know your neighbours that way.

    Is the first picture some sort of garden area or walkway? I really like the greenery, trees and plants there. I really enjoy reading these posts with photos, as it gives you a lovely incite in other cultures/traditions, so thanks Dennis.

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    Replies
    1. It was delicious Rum. They use a specialized roasting technique that produces pork unlike any you’d come across in the UK.

      The walkway you asked about is part of the common area of a small housing development in the village. Half the houses face this walkway, and the others, including ours, overlook a PLA base, where anything can happen, and often does.

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  4. Gotta say - I'm loving this blog.
    It's brilliant to see an inside look at life in other countries and I particularly enjoyed the caption of the last photo haha!

    By the way, I've nominated you for the 'Very Inspiring Blogger' award.
    If you pop over to my blog [ http://bit.ly/PHpxrj ] you can find out more :)
    - Danielle.

    ReplyDelete

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