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Hong Kong - Culture, Society and Religion
Hong Kong is not recognized as a religious place, on the whole, although you will find various religious abodes and structures. Most of the residents would probably claim no religious affiliation or else claim a type of atheism or agnosticism. Only 43% of the population practices a form of religion, according to the U.S Department of State. Evolution is taught in the public schools while creationism is not even taught as a secondary explanation.
The Basic Law allows residents of Hong Kong to enjoy religious freedom. Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are the three main religions, however. There is a Christian community which forms around 12% of the population and there are more Protestants than Catholics. Visitors will find smaller groups of Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, and Muslims. The number of expats that make Hong Kong their home has had an influence on the diversity of religions that are represented. Expats who engage in religious services in their native countries do not generally have trouble finding places of worship in Hong Kong, although there might be some traveling involved.
Oftentimes, Hong Kong is described as a place where Eastern cultures meet Western ones. The culture in Hong Kong is a mix of traditional Chinese roots with influences from Great Britain that trace back from the time it was a British colony. Visitors can find traditional Chinese practices interwoven with a contemporary lifestyle and modern conveniences.
Although there are many high rise buildings, a large and busy international airport, and all of the modern conveniences you would expect from a large city, certain things like feng shui are still practiced and superstitions are still taken seriously. You might, for instance, be hard pressed to find a floor in one of those buildings that has a number “4” since that word in Cantonese means “die.” On the restaurant scene, you’re just as likely to find an American type restaurant as you are to find a dim sum restaurant.
Chinese folk religion still plays a part of the culture, especially where the elderly in Hong Kong are concerned. The Ching Ming festival is held every year to commemorate the memory of ancestors. Hong Kong has many shrines, both large and small, that pay respect to the local Gods and Goddesses. The Chinese New Year is the most important and widely attended celebration of the year.
There is a range of entertainment options, too. Along with high quality night clubs, cinemas, and restaurants, there is also a mix of cultural institutions such as the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. In comparison to Mainland China, the media does not suffer from as much official interference. Self-censorship does occasionally exist from journalists and others in the profession, however, who might have ties to the People’s Republic of China.
In 1992, the Hong Kong Matrimonial Ordinance was passed. This banned same sex marriage and concubinage and defined marriage as a heterosexual relationship with only one partner. Gay marriages are not currently recognized in Hong Kong and a dependent’s visa, which can include the spouse, does not extend to partners who are not legally married. Many of the traditional Chinese values like saving face, family solidarity, and courtesy are still important in the minds of those who live in Hong Kong.
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