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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in Hong Kong Series at CantoneseClass101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind holidays and observances in Hong Kong. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 22 Jingzhe, or 驚蟄 in Cantonese.
Jingzhe falls around March 6th, and in Hong Kong tradition, it is the perfect day for "villain-hitting".
Not many Hong Kong people are familiar with Jingzhe or 驚蟄, but people do know "villain-hitting" or 打小人 in Cantonese, because Jingzhe is the day that people do this villain-hitting. "Villain", or 小人, means a person that is unfavorable and brings bad luck to you.
Now, before we get into more detail, I've got a question for you- Can you guess how much it costs for one go at "villain hitting"?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later, so keep listening!
There’s one theory that says the change of the season caused the thunder and wakes up the hibernating insects and animals. It makes the Spring, or 春天, start and causes new life to be born.
In Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor uses the thunder to summon all the gods to be in place for their duties. In the past, traditional Taoism paid respect to the white tiger, or 白虎, on this day, hoping it could suppress the demons and insects that ruin crops. And now, it has evolved into "villain-hitting" in modern society.
Through this villain-hitting ceremony, people in Hong Kong hope that bad luck, or 衰氣, will be driven away. This ceremony is supposed to be held in a dark place. Therefore, the most popular location for "villain-hitting" is under the Canal Road Flyover near the Causeway Bay MTR station, the city’s darkest area.
On Jingzhe, you can see people in a long queue for the ceremony, which involves many procedures and tools. First, you need to write the villain's information on the villain-paper, then the villain-hitting granny will offer some fat pork to the white tiger. She then slaps the paper with a shoe or slipper while muttering prayers for the client, wishing for peace and good luck. The ceremony lasts for 5-10 minutes and people believe that this will bring them good luck because the bad luck has been driven away.
Don't assume that only the elderly participate in this superstitious tradition. Recently, many young people have also been getting into this event, especially office workers or 打工仔. They often see their colleagues, superiors, or love rivals as the villain. Interestingly, government officials have come to be seen as the "villain" recently too, and people hold group "villain-hitting" ceremonies as part of the demonstrations against the government. Demonstrations in Cantonese are called 示威活動
Now it's time to answer our quiz question- Can you guess how much it costs for one go at "villain hitting"?
It costs HK$50 each time. That's around 6.5 U.S. Dollars. Some might think this is expensive as it’s for a 5 or 10 minute ceremony. But many Hong Kong people are willing to pay this much money to vent their grievances or 怨氣, and release pressure, and as a result, obtain psychological relief.
How was this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Is there a holiday for letting out bad luck in your country?
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We'll see you next time!