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Culture of Macau

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Title: Culture of Macau  
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Culture of Macau

A sign in both Chinese and Portuguese in Macau - "主教座堂辦公室" (in Chinese) and "Cartório da Sé" (in Portuguese), which means "Office of the Cathedral."

The culture of Macau is characterized by the fusion between the Portuguese and Chinese cultures. With most of the population being Chinese, one would expect the total assimilation of the Portuguese over the past four centuries (as seen in Portuguese Goa, India). However, this has not been the case at least until the past decade or so. Before 1974, Portugal had a permanent military station in Macau. Hence, there were always Portuguese men sent to Macau to complete their compulsory military service. Many decided to stay and settle down after their service was completed.


  • People and languages 1
    • Cultural identity 1.1
    • Mass media 1.2
    • Cuisine 1.3
    • Religion 1.4
    • Chinese traditional medicine 1.5
  • Arts 2
    • Film 2.1
    • Music 2.2
    • Literature 2.3
    • Cantonese Opera 2.4
    • Facilities 2.5
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External Links 5
    • Music 5.1

People and languages

Macau's population consists of mostly Han Chinese (95%) and Portuguese (2%), with a minority of other ethnicities. Although both Chinese (Cantonese) and Portuguese are the official languages of the region,[1] most of the residents speak Cantonese. Currently there is only one school in Macau where Portuguese is the medium of instruction.

The Macanese language, generally known as Patuá, is a distinctive Creole that is still spoken by several dozen Macanese, an ethnic group of mixed Asian and Portuguese ancestry that accounts for a small percentage of Macau's population.

Signs in Macau are displayed in both Traditional Chinese and Portuguese. In contrast to mainland China, Macau, along with Hong Kong and Taiwan, generally does not use Simplified Chinese Characters.

Among the main migrants of the country are skilled workers from the Philippines, hence Tagalog is one of the most heard foreign languages. Masses in Tagalog are celebrated every Sunday, 10h30 at the Igreja de Santo Agostinho.

Cultural identity

Although Macanese culture is more Portuguese than Chinese, Portuguese culture almost lost touch with Macau after Portugal's African provinces won independence, and Indonesia claimed Portuguese Timor, in 1975. Furthermore, the main language of Macau is Cantonese, and the main religion is Buddhism. Macanese culture now influences its Portuguese counterpart. The worldwide popularity of Chinese food and Chinese martial arts (kung fu or wu shu) has made them popular in Portugal as well.

In 1998 the first Festival da Lusofonia happened in Macau, a festival of Portuguese-Speaking communities in Macau. In November 2013 the 16th edition of the festival took place over the duration of two and a half days with musical activities, kids programmes, traditional Portuguese games and food from Portuguese speaking countries' cuisines.[2]

Mass media

Most of the pop music that can be heard on the channel TDM Teledifusao de Macau (澳廣視m est. 1982) [1] is imported from Hong Kong or overseas (mainly Japan). However, more and more local songs are being recorded by locals. Some Brazilian TV stations are also broadcast in Macau.


Macanese cuisine is a blend of southern Chinese and Portuguese cuisines, with significant influences from Southeast Asia and the Lusophone world. The most famous snack is the Portuguese-style egg tart. It is widely popular in Southeast Asia, especially in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The most famous Macanese food is Galinha à Portuguesa which is served in numerous varieties in Macau restaurants.


The primary religion is Buddhism. Roman Catholicism has considerable influence in education and social welfare in Macau. However, adherents only count for about six percent of the population. Protestantism is spreading quickly, especially among the younger demographic groups.

Chinese traditional medicine

The practice of traditional Chinese medicine is an inalienable part of culture in the sphere of medical education, and a very common, alternative, and popular choice of treatment in Macau, for people of all social classes. With over 90 percent of its population having Chinese ancestry, Macau has had a long history of using Chinese medicine.

A Pan-Pearl River Delta Forum and Exhibition for Chinese Medicine was held in Macau from June 21 to 23, 2005, intended to further Macau's ambitions of becoming a means of access to Chinese traditional medicine for the international market.


Dom Pedro V theatre


A few independent films have been produced since the late 1990s. Some of the well-known productions include:

  • 窗前熗後 by Vincent Hui (2000)
  • Love Is Not A Sin (鍾意無罪) by Doug Chan (2003). Winner of Golden DV Award (27th HKIFF), Winner of The Best Original Screenplay Award (1st Downunder International Film Festival, Darwin).
  • macau.xmas.2005 (澳門.聖誕.2005)[2] by Sio (2005). [3]


The Macau International Music Festival is conducted by the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Macau SAR Government every autumn.[3] The 20th anniversary of the MIMF was celebrated in 2007 with performances of Jazz, classical music, electronica, Chinese folk-pop, rock and Fado.[4]

Other Lusophone music types popular in Macao are samba, bossa nova, and kizomba. [4]

In 2005, the Hush!! Full Band Festival got established, a government-sponsored modern music festival featuring pop rock and hard rock bands from all over Asia with a focus on Macau bands. The festival is free of charge and it's in its 9th edition in 2013.[5]


Robert Ho Tung library in Macau.

The literature of Macanese (i.e. those with Portuguese descent) is a multi-dimensional art. Their literature appeared as early as the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, a group of well-known writers appeared:

  • 李安樂的詩集《孤獨之路》- Anthology "Lonely Road", 《美麗的蛋家女》(TancareiraBela),《沉思的蛋家女》(Tancareira Pensativa)及《蛋家女之歌》(CancāoDe Tancareira) - Leanel Alves.
  • 若瑟(阿德)的詩集《澳門,受祝福的花園》- Anthology "Blessed garden, Macau" - Jose dos Santos Ferreira.
  • 江道蓮的短篇小說集《長衫》- Short fiction : "The Gown" written by Deolinda de Conceição [5]
  • 飛歷奇的長篇小說《愛情與小脚趾》和《大辫子的誘惑》- Long fiction: "Love and small toes" & "The Bewitching Braid" written by Henrique de Senna Fernandes [6].
  • 馬若龍的詩集《一日中的四季》- Anthology "Four seasons in one day" - Carlos Marreiros [7]
  • Other:
    • "Chinese Urheen - 《中國二胡》" Camilo Pessanha (庇山耶) 1867 - 1926
    • "Collection of Cathedral of Saint Paul -《三巴集》" WuLi (清代 • 吳曆) 1632 - 1718
    • Renowned playwright Tang Xianzu [8] (明代 • 湯顯祖 1550 - 1616). His works covered "XiangAo Meets Jia Hu" - 《香澳逢賈胡》、"Listens to Xiangshan - Translator" one, "Listens to Xiangshan - Translator" two - 《聼香山譯者 1, 2 》, 《香山驗香所採香口號》, "South Haijiang" -《南海江》 and so on. These works mainly reflected and depicted Macau's local scenery at that time (late Ming dynasty), the human sentiment and international trade.
    • "The Chart of Maritime Countries - 《海國圖志》", "Listens to the Dulcimer & Song playing by a foreign lady in the Aomen Garden - 《澳门花园听夷女洋琴歌》" written by WeiYuan (清代 • 魏源 1794 - 1857), displayed his personal feeling and understanding of classical music.

Cantonese Opera

Cantonese Opera Artiste" [10]. As a well-known actress and opera artiste in Canton, Hong Kong and Macau, Fong Yim Fun performed in more than 150 operas and films. Part of her works was exhibited in the Museum of Macau [11] at that time.


The Plaza of Cultural Centre
Macao Cultural Center

The Macau Cultural Centre [12](i.e. Centro Cultural de Macau) was established in 1999, for the purpose of offering unique venues for artistic events, international conferences and exhibitions, enhancing cultural exchange, and helping to expand culture horizons among Macau residents.
Hundreds of programs and events take place there almost every day, e.g. martial arts performances, Chinese traditional music, foreign music, varies types of dancing, etc.

The Macau Ricci Institute is a recent foundation of the Jesuits in Macau.
Its aim is to continue the process of friendly encounters between Chinese and Western cultures and traditions, which was begun by Matteo Ricci 1552-1610 many years ago. [13]

See also


  1. ^ Article 9, Macau Basic Law.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^

External Links


  • HUSH!! Full Band Festival, official CCM website
  • Macau scene overview at
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