It’s Tin Hau’s birthday today in Hong Kong (and everywhere else, even if most people don’t know about it). Unfortunately, I’m in mainland China right now, in one of those places where people don’t know or care about it. But I was in Hong Kong for most of 2013, and let me tell you about Tin Hau.
Tin Hau (天后 – Mandarin: Tian Hou), known in mainland China as Matsu (媽祖), is a goddess of the sea who is said to protect fisherman and others. There are over 70 Tin Hau temples on Hong Kong, the earliest dating back to 1012 (and later rebuilt) at Joss House Bay.
As legend has it, Tin Hau is the spirit of Lin Moniang, an adept swimmer who would help guide fisherman to shore in bad weather. She was said to have been born on Meizhou Island in Fujian on the 23rd day of the third lunar month in 960. The 23rd day of the third lunar month is today, so Tin Hau is 1,053.
According to Larry Salibra, the CEO of Pay4Bugs, adherents and celebrators were parading down a street in the New Territories all morning, starting at midnight.
Tin Hau birthday parade been going on all morning pic.twitter.com/6v5B79Xz6Z
— Larry Salibra (@larrysalibra) April 22, 2014