You’ll Never See as Many Buns Together as You’ll See In This Chinese Festival
A ritual to appease the souls of pirate victims and to bring safety from future pirate attacks. That was the original motivation for a festival that is held annually by the fishing community of Cheung Chau, an island about 10km southwest of Hong Kong.
These days, the original meaning has been forgotten, and the festival has become more a showcase of traditional Chinese culture. It brings tens of thousands of local and overseas visitors on the fifth of May every year.
The main visual symbol of the festival is three 60-foot bamboo towers stacked with sweet buns holding three giant deity icons.
It is common to make handmade sweet buns for visitors, and with the large amount of festival participants, the local bakers have to work long hours in order to supply the demand of tens of thousands of buns.
One local baker in particular, Kwok Kam-chuen, owner of Kwok Kam Kee Cake Shop, has upgraded his work force by adding machinery to the mix. In previous festivals, Kwok had to hire a dozen staff members for only a few days so that the bakery ran smoothly, but since the job was temporary, it was difficult to find workers.
Recently, Kwok purchased a HK$400,000 machine to take care of the extra work. At the peak period during the week, Kwok’s team would make 50 to 60 thousand sweet buns and sell ten thousand in a day.
To his knowledge, he is the only baker in Cheung Chau working with a machine and is happy that it can manage to make 20 buns a minute, double what could be made by hand.
If you are interested in Chinese culture and enjoy sweet bread you now know that the Cheung Chau Bun Festival in May is the place to be.