Every year on the day of Jingzhe, a traditional Chinese festival, the streets of Hong Kong come alive with the sounds of drums and the sight of colorful paper-mache figures. But it’s not just any kind of celebration – it’s one that involves hitting “villains” with bamboo sticks. And it’s a tradition that has both locals and tourists enchanted.
Jingzhe, also known as the “Awakening of Insects,” falls on the 5th of March each year and is celebrated in several East Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The festival marks the beginning of spring and is associated with the agricultural cycle. It is said that on this day, insects awaken from their winter slumber and begin to stir, signaling the start of the planting season.
In Hong Kong, however, the festival takes on a unique twist. Rather than simply celebrating the arrival of spring, locals also use the day as an opportunity to drive away evil spirits and bad luck by hitting “villains” with bamboo sticks. These villains are often depicted as caricatures of people or objects that are considered unlucky, such as ghosts or monsters.
The act of hitting these villains with bamboo sticks is believed to bring good luck and fortune to those who participate. The tradition has been passed down for generations and is now an integral part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage.
For tourists visiting Hong Kong, the tradition of “villain hitting” on Jingzhe is an experience unlike any other. Many are drawn to the colorful paper-mache figures and the sound of the drums, which can be heard from blocks away. Some even join in on the fun, wielding bamboo sticks and hitting the villains with gusto.
For Hongkongers, the tradition of “villain hitting” is more than just a fun way to celebrate the arrival of spring. It’s a way to connect with their cultural heritage and to pass down traditions to future generations. Many families make their own paper-mache figures and bamboo sticks, and spend weeks preparing for the festival.
In recent years, however, the tradition of “villain hitting” has come under criticism from some who see it as violent or superstitious. Some have even called for the tradition to be banned. But for many Hongkongers, the tradition is an important part of their identity and a way to connect with their ancestors.
As the world becomes more modernized and globalized, traditional customs like “villain hitting” on Jingzhe may become increasingly rare. But for those in Hong Kong who continue to celebrate the festival, the tradition remains as strong as ever. And for tourists lucky enough to experience it, the festival is a chance to witness a unique and vibrant cultural heritage firsthand.