Easter Monday marks the last day of Hong Kong’s four-day weekend before the Ching Ming Festival. As a former British colony with a population of over 850,000 Christians, it is no surprise that Easter comprises of one of the 12 major public holidays celebrated in many ways around the city, from spending the weekend travelling, attending church service, and of course, taking children Easter egg hunting: an important break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Easter Sunday is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Christians around the globe, as it celebrates the resurrection of Christ, which occurred three days after he was crucified. Jesus was executed by the Romans on Friday, known as Good Friday, and was buried in a cave tomb. However, his body was not to be seen in the tomb on Sunday. His resurrection is of great significance because it forms the basis Christian belief in the New Testament, establishing Christ as the Son of God, raised from the dead.
So, what does Easter mean to Hong Kong’s Christians?
Terese Cha, a 54-year-old banker, believes the Easter weekend is a symbol of new life and energy for everyone. Good Friday, she says, is a time for meditation and reflection, and remembering Jesus and his sacrifice. Hiking, a popular pastime in mountainous Hong Kong, is one of the many ways Christians get a chance to experience the quietness.
“For me, Easter is a time for hope,” says Cha. “Everything is reborn, everything is refreshed, and it’s the celebration of new beginnings. It is spring time, when flowers are blooming everywhere, and trees are turning green. The festival is a symbol of energy for me.”
She says Christmas and Easter are the two main holidays she celebrates as a Christian. The Easter holiday also coincides with Ching Ming, or Tomb Sweeping, festival- another day of remembrance for ancestors, in the Chinese culture. For her, like many Chinese Christians, it isn’t hard to reconcile these two cultures, as she often spends her weekend paying her respects to her late grandmother.
“I was born and raised in Hong Kong. In our generation, we are used to abiding by these cultural norms,” she says. However, she does not expect her son, now a teenager, to grow up with the same values, and celebrate Ching Ming and Easter the same way she does.
“I think it’s a difference in generations. Young people mostly treat these holidays as a day of rest. Little kids, they have their Easter egg hunts and decorations,” she says, referring to the iconic Easter bunny, which is a symbol of fertility, and the egg, which represents new life.
“The Easter holiday has different meanings for different people,” she adds. “It all boils down to new life, and new beginnings.”
While many youngsters in Hong Kong do celebrate Easter as a weekend to escape work – either by partying or travelling, it is interesting to see how young Christians view Easter as well.
Kimberly Lu, 23, is a graduate engineer whose faith in the religion has changed over the years as she grew up. When she was more religious, Easter was “super important, as it was time to think about someone who had died for you many years ago.”
Over time, she has become more critical of the religion. Nowadays for her, Easter is a time to take a break from work and school. When she was younger, going to church with her family was a habit, but now she accompanies them less frequently.
“I haven’t found an answer yet,” says Lu. “I still try to keep my moral values, but I have no faith anymore. So technically, I’m not a Christian anymore!”
However, not all young Hong Kong locals have renounced their faith. Elvis Wong, also 23, echoes Cha’s impression of Easter as a time for reflection and silent meditation.
“It is important for me to think about Jesus, and the sacrifice he made for us,” says Wong, who spends the weekend going to church for worship. “It is a time to reflect on my relationship with Jesus, and God. I think about how to be better, and try to follow Christian teachings more completely.”
Wong also spends the weekend with his family and friends, and enjoys talking to his friends about the gospel. “Other Hong Kong people don’t really care much about the meaning of Easter, and treat it as a normal holiday,” he says. This often translates into commercialisation of the holiday.
“Easter in Hong Kong is getting more and more commercialised in the recent years. I believe this is a bad thing because it shifts the focus away from the true meaning of the holiday,” says Wong. “Shops use this time of the year for promotion, with the eggs. This is not the original meaning of Easter.”
It is clear that Easter has many meanings to many people, Christian and non-Christians alike. With record flights being booked this weekend as people getaway from the city, it is clear that for most of us, it is a weekend to escape work for a while. However, it is most interesting to observe how patterns in the celebration of such festivals is changing across generations. And yet, the same festivals still bring joy in many ways, to the old and the young alike.
Reporter: Siya Kulkarni
Editor: Sarah Wong
Copy Editor: Emily Peng
Content Manager: Ivy Li