In Chinese moon calendar, today earmarks the day of Jingzhe (驚蟄). Chinese farmers in the past came to realize that every year there is a day in summertime when venomous insects wake up and the 'White Tiger,' a super-natural malignant being in Chinese folklore, roams around looking for prey. Gradually, it has become the day of Jingzhe. To placate the White Tiger, local folks perform some sorts of ritual today. At the very beginning, it was some kinds of fest, like lion dancing and singing. But over time, the main theme for today was turned into ritual of beating 'petty person' -- 打小人(i.e. beating hostile people), with reason still unknown.
The best locale to witness this 'petty person' beating ritual in Hong Kong is the Goose Neck Bridge of Wanchai (nearby the Times Square of Causeway Bay). Dr. Sui-wai Cheung of the City University of Hong Kong has a detailed story about this over here.
Like all things in life, the formule for beating nasty person changes too. In the days of yore, the petty person you hated so much was beaten up for some good time by the professional beaters (about HK$50 per fix) with Chinese cloth shoes vigorously. But what a sad fact for your nemesis! These beaters these days use high heels, which in my opinion is ten times deadlier than cloth shoes. "To all the restaurateurs and chefs I've bad-mouthed out there: if there's anything I did you wrong, let me know, okay? Just don't go down to that bridge, please? I'll try to make up for you as far as possible..."
A funny thing is, for the spell to be more effective, it is better to use the shoes worn by clientele, though in theory any shoes will do. That's the reason why you can see many people sitting barefooted next to the beaters during the ceremony. [Caution: the large loaf of french stick you bought from the bakery, though stone solid, is hopelessly useless in this regard. It's meant for banging on a living person rather than on your sufferer drawn on papers.]
There is a belief that the birthday (the year, month, day and hours in lunar terms) of your antagonist is pivotal for an effectual beat up. Wrong. For the very fact that we're living in a space age, right? Good news for all you stalking people out there: the residential address of your hidden adversary will suffice (while the email address or URL of him/her is not, for now) ...
Food-wise, food served today is for neither you nor me but the paper tigers. You'd need to buy up some nice xiu yuk (barbecued pork) from the roastie specialist so that you can ingratiate the paper tigers (represent the mighty White Tiger) with. With these sacrifices, not only will the white tiger not take you as prey, but it will also aid you to remove all the threats from the petty people around you.
By now, you're probably wondering why the bloody hell I know so much about this virulent business. Frankly, my dear readers, it's because I am also one of these professional beaters down there at the bridge and, I am, the busiest among all -- all because someone once asked me to beat all those spiteful souls who dislike this mediocre food blog... "Vegeance is mine, I will repay."
"I beat your petty head, so that you can breathe no air;
I beat your petty hand, so that you can steal no silver."
[Pictures courtesy of Chinese Civilisation Centre]