W3 Intangible Heritage—-Hitting Small People
The Waking of Insects or Hitting Small People is a traditional custom of Chinese people and it is also well-known in Hong Kong.
Let us first learn about what is “The Waking of Insects” in Chinese culture. “The Waking of Insects” actually is one of the 24 solar terms. It means that on that particular day, those insects under the soil would all come out after a long hibernation. People usually use wormwood to clear away those harmful insects.
In Chinese tradition, white tiger is the deity of bickering. On the day of “The Waking of Insects”, it will come out and bike people. Therefore, people will worship white tiger by preparing a paper tiger and feeding it with pig blood meaning that it won’t bike people when it is not hungry anymore. Nowadays, people in Hong Kong usually practice this custom under the canal bridge in Wanchai. During the ritual of “Hitting Small People”, the hitter will write the name of the enemy on the paper doll and use his or her slippers to hit the paper doll. After that, they would use a red magnate paper to pray for blessings. Finally, they burn Note Offering for the ghosts. People believe that after doing this, all bad luck will go away and those villains cannot backstab them anymore.
Hitting small people virtually symbolizes erasing misfortunes and bringing good fortunes to the people. This kind of social practice reflects the culture of the 24 solar terms. This practice originally is good in purpose because we just want to clear out all the bad things around us and hoping for good luck but normally people would think that this practice is as evil as voodoo like we are cursing other people. However, I think we should preserve this cultural heritage as it contains Chinese meteorology and Chinese folk custom and most importantly, it is one of social practice shared by Hong Kong people with a long history.