Grave Concerns

Ken Nicolson

in The Happy Valley

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9789888028108
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207561 | DOI:
Grave Concerns

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This chapter discusses the history of Happy Valley, a district in Hong Kong where important cultural heritages mingle with the different emerging forms of urbanism. The focus of this chapter is on the three cemeteries found along Happy Valley: the Hong Kong Cemetery, the Parsee Cemetery, and the Jewish Cemetery. While Happy Valley to several Hong Kong resides is synonymous with horse-racing, Happy Valley did not derived its name from the fun and excitement of racing. Happy Valley is a British euphemism for cemeteries during the 1800s. The cemeteries within the Happy Valley were built in the early 1800s to address the urgent need for burial space. Carrying the Western ideals and traditions, these cemeteries were designed by the British as public parks where people could enjoy a moment of peace and escape from the noise of cosmopolitan life; however the concept of cemeteries as public parks did not transpose comfortably into Hong Kong. This is because of the cultural differences with British and Chinese traditions and Chinese cemeteries rarely having surplus land space for ornamental planting. Despite the differences with the British and Chinese traditions and the relatively small allocated space for ornamental planting, the Happy Valley cemeteries nevertheless proved havens for the beautiful interplay of the cultures and traditions of Britain and China. These cemeteries, apart from providing places to lay the dead, served as cultural heritages of Hong Kong and valuable public spaces for meditation.

Keywords: Happy Valley; Hong Kong; cultural heritages; cemetery; public parks; Britain; China

Chapter.  2612 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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