Hong Kong’s Cheung Chau bun snatching contest to resume in May after 3-year Covid-19 hiatus

Hong Kong’s iconic bun scrambling competition will be held for the first time in three years, with applications opening next Monday.

“Physically fit people aged 18 or above” are welcome to apply by March 20, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced on Friday.

Bun snatching competition in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong. Photo: GovHK.

The final round of the competition, where contestants climb up a tower covered with buns, will be held on May 26 at the soccer pitch of Pak Tai Temple Playground on Cheung Chau.

Traditionally, the famed bun competition is part of Cheung Chau’s Jiao Festival. Other celebrations include  “Piu Sik,” which translates to “floating colours,” where children in fancy dress are held up on towering poles and paraded through streets of the outlying island.

Intangible Cultural Heritage

According to the Hong Kong Intangible Cultural Heritage Database, the Jiao Festival has been practised for over a century.

“Legends say that Cheung Chau was devastated by a plague in the late Qing dynasty. To dispel the disaster, Huizhou and Chiu Chow natives invited accomplished monks and Taoist priests and set up a sacrificial altar in front of Pak Tai Temple to pray to deities, repent and to comfort departed souls from the land and the sea,” the database read.

File Photo: GovHK.

Following the the plague, “residents on Cheung Chau have been organising the annual Jiao Festival to express gratitude to Pak Tai for blessing the area with peace,” the website read.

The Jiao Festival, as well as the bun snatching competition, attract tens of thousands of spectators every year including visitors across the globe. However, celebrations were called off for three years in a row since 2020 after the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Hong Kong once maintained one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 social distancing regime, and a city-wide mask mandate remains in place. However, the majority of the city’s restrictions, including limits of the number of people allowed in group gathering limits and quarantine for incoming travellers, were lifted late last year.

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