O Come All Ye Faithful

(traditional Christmas carol, known to Latin speakers as ‘Adeste Fideles’)

Christmas, a commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ, a date, 25 December, selected to coincide with and displace the Roman pagan festival of Saturnalia, and a celebration of goodwill, high spirits and overconsumption for billions of people around the world. The one thing upon which all celebrants appear to agree is that it should indeed be an occasion of goodwill.

It is therefore appropriate in the weeks before the 25th in these troubled and troubling times for our city to discover what people here still enjoy and relish; what, in short, helps them keep faith in the future of Hong Kong. A characteristically unscientific survey reveals common themes.

First and foremost is a shared appreciation of the special quality of Hong Kong people. References were made to the pragmatic attitudes of Hong Kongers, a willingness to ‘just get on with it’ regardless of circumstances. Others spoke of their resilience in difficult times and support for each other in such circumstances. Another registered their appreciation of the people’s genius for improvisation. Yet another lauded Hong Kongers’ willingness to ‘speak truth to power’. There was also recognition of softer qualities, genuine warmth, plus kindness and consideration for others.

The city’s environment, if not its air quality, was widely appreciated. Our parks and recreation facilities were praised with one respondent commenting on the support they provide for community activities, such as walking running or practising taichi and yoga. He was particularly moved by attendance at the Clockenflap festival where he found the combination of park, music, people and the Hong Kong skyline ‘just perfect’; others expressed appreciation of the harbour. Our mountains are also enjoyed ‘on a clear day’.

One person commented favourably on the variety of cultural events offered in the city, while the horse racing season, especially in the intimacy of the Happy Valley racecourse, appealed to several respondents.

It being the Christmas season, references to food and drink were unsurprisingly frequent and unanimously enthusiastic. The quality and diversity of the choices available were universally praised.

The safety of our city streets, all too easy to take for granted until travelling elsewhere in the world, was generally acknowledged as was the convenience of navigation with public transport efficiency being a recurring theme. For those who travel more widely, the efficiency of our airport is a source of Hong Kong pride, a valuable attribute for those taking advantage of the city’s convenient geographical location for international travel.

At a more general level Hong Kong is still perceived as ‘efficient’, although this attribute is regarded as diminishing rather than improving.

Politics, unsurprisingly, prompted few comments. One respondent wrote favourably of the rule of law despite, as she added, current challenges. Another contributed the thought, cheering for many, that although Hong Kong has an ‘Electoral College of sorts’ it would never produce a Trump-like Chief Executive.

With these tidings of comfort and joy I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a jolly good New Year.

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