The Lunar New Year’s Eve traditional first incense offering at Wong Tai Sin Temple will return this year for the first time since 2020. The temple will be open from 9pm on January 21. Devotees can collect their incense sticks at 9pm and at midnight, after which they can remain in the temple overnight to light them.
The first incense offering of the Lunar New Year holds special significance as it is believed that it will bring good luck for the year ahead. Every year, visitors to Wong Tai Sin Temple — which is Hong Kong’s largest Taoist temple — wait outside the temple and stand should-to-shoulder at the main alter as they offer their first incense sticks to the Great Immortal Wong, to whom the shrine is dedicated.
The temple was closed on Lunar New Year’s Eve in 2021 and 2022 because of Covid-19 restrictions. However, it will be open this year as most of the city’s anti-epidemic restrictions were scrapped in December 2022.
This year, the devotees who go to Wong Tai Sin Temple on January 21 must observe crowd-control measures, such as entering the shrine via one of three entrances and not returning to the altar after they offer their incense. Those who cannot make the offering in person can watch the temple’s live broadcast, which will begin at midnight on January 22.
Header image credits: dale de la Rey via Flickr