Different festivals are set up to commemorate important dates in our history, such as the National Day or the Handover, or to highlight changes in nature, such as the New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival, or to preserve the heritage of civilisations, such as the Chung Yeung Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival, or to celebrate religious festivals, such as Easter and Christmas.
Year after year, people celebrate regular festivals, experience a different atmosphere and enjoy sumptuous feasts with family and friends. These joyful moments spice up our humdrum lives and give us a break. These wonderful memories continue to accumulate in our hearts. For example, when we think of the Mid-Autumn Festival, we immediately think of lanterns of all shapes and sizes. Rows and rows of them are lit up in the darkness of the night, their warm light reflecting in our eyes; the sound of children’s laughter as they play with the lanterns, accompanied by the autumn wind blowing gently through them. The cool winds sent the summer heat away. These beautiful moments are accumulated in our hearts, some of them have become our childhood memories, and some of them have become our collective memories in Hong Kong.
In addition to traditional holidays, the United Nations has also adopted the focus of commemorative days by establishing different international days of remembrance to draw public attention to lesser-known but very important international issues, especially for vulnerable groups, such as poverty.
Perhaps we may ask what these commemorative days have to do with us.
The United Nations was founded to promote international peace and security, advance sustainable development, protect human rights, and uphold international law and humanitarianism.
International days of observances (also weeks, years and decades) are used to measure the level of worldwide interest and involvement in a particular issue. In addition to raising public awareness of issues, these commemorative days help to mobilise governments and resources to address them and promote human well-being. They are widely known as Human Rights Day, International Women’s Day and International Day of Peace.
World Drowning Prevention Day is celebrated by the United Nations on 25 July every year. Drowning turns out to be the leading cause of accidental death.
In 2019, it is estimated that 236,000 people will die from drowning, making drowning a global public health concern. Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury and death, with accidents occurring mainly in low- and middle-income countries.
The United Nations has made drowning prevention a global holiday in the hope that more can be done to prevent this killer of human life, especially children, and that life-saving solutions can be offered to these governments.
This past Dragon Boat Festival, Water World Ocean Park became the first in Hong Kong to host the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. Organised by the World Waterpark Association, the event aimed to promote and educate children on swimming and drowning prevention, and echoed the World Health Organisation’s call for the public to be aware of the public health threat of drowning accidents.
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Elva Lai enjoys reading, learning, travelling, hiking and making a cup of coffee in the morning. She received her art education in Singapore, the USA, Germany and Hong Kong.
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