Together. Progress. Opportunity: Celebrating 20th Anniversary Handover Day

Hong Kong is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary as one of China’s two Special Administrative Regions (SARs) — the other being Macau. In 1997, Hong Kong finally closed the door on its historical British colonial rule when it was handed over to the Chinese government on July 1. Ever since, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Day or HKSAR Day (also known as Handover Day), celebrates China’s progress and recognizes the need for future evolutions. This annual holiday is celebrated throughout the region with interactive learning environments, national centric art galleries, school plays, and even a dedicated music video. This year, Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is reported to be making his first official visit to mark the occasion.

Traditions & Customs:

HKSAR Day traditionally begins with the flag raising ceremony in Golden Bauhinia Square. This event pays homage to the original handover ceremony that occurred in 1997 when the British and colonial flags were lowered and replaced with the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR flags. HKSAR Day is filled with various celebrations such as carnivals, dragon dances, and theatrical performances. The day of festivities ends with luminescent fireworks launched over Hong Kong harbor.

Yet as bright and beautiful as the Handover Day’s celebrations are, they aren’t the only highlight of the day. Handover Day is also a time of social activism, with thousands of citizens gathering to rally for their rights. Originally organized by the Civil Human Rights Front, the causes behind this yearly march have been numerous, but the overarching theme is universal suffrage.

Together. Progress. Opportunity:

While the celebration of HKSAR day is a commemoration of the past, it also plays a huge role in Hong Kong’s future. This year’s theme is “Together. Progress. Opportunity.” which demonstrates Hong Kong’s dedication to improve not only its own communities, but to bring mutual respect and inclusiveness to an international stage. While striving to implement the concept of “one country, two systems” for the last 20 years, Hong Kong has demonstrated how a modern city can integrate its own multicultural philosophies into traditional Chinese culture. Striving to improve economic development, education, and care for the less fortunate, Hong Kong continues to progress internationally, providing an environment in which both national and international opportunities can thrive.

Sharon Schweitzer and Caitlyn Arnold co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Caitlyn Arnold is a summer 2017 cross-cultural communication intern at Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She is currently a senior at St. Edward’s University, majoring in Global Studies with concentrations in East Asia and International Security. Connect with Caitlyn on LinkedIn or follow her on Instagram