Elements of Intangible Cultural Heritage

    Sacrifice Offering to the White Tiger on Insect Awakening Day


    The Insect Awakening Day is one of the 24 solar terms (the 24 moments tactivitieswhen the sun reaches the predefined positions), falling on the 5th or 6th day of the third lunar month. It is the time when the weather gets warmer and nature seems to regain a new life, with a similar effect to that of a spring thunder that, suddenly, awakes all insects. The local Chinese citizens go to temples or to the public Tou Tei street altars to bring offerings to the white tiger on the Insect Awakening Day. Legend has it that the white tiger is the king of animals and can provide protection from pests. It is believed that the worship of the white tiger can bring safety and peace for people or their family members, keeping away bad luck and diseases, also preventing disasters and solving difficulties. In addition to the custom of offering sacrifices to the white tiger, other popular rituals on the Insect Awakening Day include the so-called “villain hitting” and “inviting benefactors”.


    Conservation Status:

    The folk custom of offering symbolic sacrifices to the white tiger on the insect Awakening Day originated from Guangdong, and is mostly practiced in Macao’s Tou Tei temples, street altars dedicated to Tou Tei and Seak Kam Tong (stone tablets). Among them, the Seak Kam Tong Hang Toi Temple is the most popular. Devotees usually use yellow paper tigers  for the mentioned symbolic sacrificial ceremonies.


    Heritage Value:

    Sacrifice offering to the white tiger on Insect Awakening Day is a traditional custom and religious practice with local characteristics. The preservation of this traditionshows that Chinese devotees’ understanding and perception about nature and about the traditional lunar calendar. This tradition is also an important testimony about the resilience of traditional Chinese culture in Macao. The way in which this tradition is practiced is also a good example of Macao’s cultural diversity. This is a tradition with significant value for the study of local folk culture.

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