There's no question that Hong Kong's traditional holiday celebrations are colourful China educational tours, from the buckets of freshly-cut flowers exploding out of market stalls during Chinese New Year to the gentle glow of the elaborate lanterns that pay homage to the harvest moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
But no ritual is as vibrant -- or as zany -- as the Cheung Chau Bun Festival, an annual springtime rite China business travel characterized by parades, performances -- and thousands of hunks of steamed dough.
A 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Hong Kong, the sleepy island of Cheung Chau is a fishing village with narrow lanes, seafood restaurants, beaches and water sports. Once known for being an outpost of piracy within the territory, today it is a China tours destination for city folk looking for a laid-back day trip -- except during the bun festival, when huge crowds gather to witness the spectacle.
Held annually according to the lunar calendar (this year falling on 25 to 29 April), the bun festival's origins date back 100 years to when a plague struck the island, and in response villagers set up an altar to Pak Tai, a Taoist god. They sacrificed Yangtze River cruises offerings to drive away the evil spirits causing the scourge -- and it worked. The bun festival is celebrated every year to thank the deities who saved the island.
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