Tin Hau’s Birthday falls on the 23rd day of the third lunar month.
Hong Kong’s maritime heritage ensures that Tin Hau, Goddess of the Sea and patron saint of fishermen, has a strong and loyal following here. On her birthday, locals flock to the more than 70 temples dedicated to her to pray for safety, security, fine weather and full fishing nets during the coming year. So enduring is the reverence for Tin Hau that this festival is even celebrated by many young people who are more likely to see a fish in a restaurant than on a trawler.
Festivities at Shap Pat Heung
Processions in Shap Pat Heung (which means ‘18 villages’ in Cantonese) in Yuen Long include a three-hour parade featuring nearly 30 fa pau (floral wreaths) groups, lion dancers, as well as dancing groups and marching bands from local schools.
Fa Pau Raffle
The raffling of fa pau depicting Tin Hau is an indispensible part of the Shap Pat Heung Tin Hau festivities. Villagers believe that whoever wins the fa pau gains good fortune and protection in the coming year. In olden times, the fa pau were attached to rockets and fired into the air. Young men from different villages would fight to get the biggest chunks. Today, it is a more sedate affair, with a raffle held to decide which village takes home the wreaths. Amongst them, the Ding Choy Pau is especially sought after as it is believed the winning village will be blessed with good fortune ('choy') and fertility ('ding').
The Yuen Long area is rich in cultural attractions. Be sure to check out the Tai Shu Ha Tin Hau Temple, Tai Wong Temple, Pat Heung Old Temple and the Ping Shan Heritage Trail after enjoying the parade.
Celebrations in Joss House Bay
Every year the Tin Hau Festival attracts thousands of worshippers to the Tin Hau Temple in Joss House Bay, the oldest in Hong Kong. With its history and magnificent architecture, it is listed as a Grade 1 Historic Building. After worshipping in the main temple, visitors can touch the dragon bed in the side temple for good luck, and head to the Rock Inscription at Joss House Bay, a Declared Monument, to learn about the temple’s history.