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Springing into Chinese New Year

CNY flower market_1

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, without a doubt the biggest festival of the Hong Kong calendar. Families gather together for days of feasting, exchanging well-wishes and red packets of lucky money – lai see.

During the lead-up to the New Year celebrations, I headed down to Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park, where six football pitches are given over for the annual Lunar New Year Fair. Bookended by hot food stalls peddling meat skewers, soup noodles, dumplings and pork chop buns, half of the venue is dedicated to a sprawling flower market.

Those seeking success in their love lives might purchase bundles of peach blossoms, while orchids – representing fertility – are given as gifts to newlyweds and expectant mothers. Rows of tangerine bushes bear witness to the Cantonese love of puns: the word for “tangerine” is also a homonym for “lucky”. Other stalls are decorated with a curious South American fruit, known as “five generations together in one house”. Carefully stacked into New Year trees, these voluptuous, inedible fruit are known in English by a rather more straightforward name.

There was a time when I went for six consecutive years without celebrating Chinese New Year. I missed the family dinners, the bold red door couplets, and the smell of spent gunpowder as it lingered in the air over the harbour. And who could forget the sweet scent of narcissus, the flower of water fairies? Two pots of the white and yellow blossoms now grace the living room, following a family tradition that has existed for as long as I can remember.

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Orchids for sale

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Snow ball chrysanthemum

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Pussy willow

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Narcissus blossoms

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Tangerines in the sun

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“Five generations together in one house”

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Miniature lantern

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Tropical bounty

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Silver and gold

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Budding narcissus

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Festive flower stall

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Feast for the eyes

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New Year trees

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Lucky bamboo

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Auspicious colours

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Bundles of peach blossom

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Spring comes early in Hong Kong

18 Comments Post a comment
  1. Those colorful pictures really give me a glimpse of how festive the Chinese New Year celebration in HK is, which equals to Eid al-Fitr celebration across Indonesia. It seems like a very nice day when you went – the colors of the flowers and fruits were not overpowered by the sun. To be honest, I’m not familiar with some of those flowers, but that twisted bamboo sticks look particularly interesting. Oh and who would have thought a fruit with such a straightforward name has a more poetic name in Cantonese!

    February 9, 2013
    • I couldn’t have asked for better weather myself – if I had gone a day later it would have been foggy and overcast! The twisted bamboo is grown in a special way, rather like those square Japanese strawberries and watermelons. Perhaps it’s more popular this year with its clear association to the form of a snake!

      February 10, 2013
  2. It is now the year of the snake…the water snake to be precise. I am water snake and this is my second water snake year. I don’t suppose I will see another as they only come around every 60 years.

    February 10, 2013
    • Never say never, Debra!

      February 10, 2013
  3. A true feast for the eye! Thank you for sharing this – just what we need in this grey and cold winter!

    February 10, 2013
    • You’re more than welcome, Ann-Christine! I’m glad it brightened things up a little. 🙂

      February 10, 2013
  4. Wow!!! So much color. And beautiful photos! Happy New Year of the Snake.

    February 11, 2013
    • Thank you! Hope you have a blessed Year of the Snake. 🙂

      February 11, 2013
  5. We were there in Hong Kong this time last year for the Flower Sale, parade, and fireworks! It was so much fun! This time of year is so boring in America…makes me really miss China! I’ll have to settle for just sending off a Konming light in my back yard to celebrate. 🙂

    February 12, 2013
    • That’s one of the perks of living in Hong Kong – getting to celebrate New Year’s twice!

      February 12, 2013
  6. Wow James, such beautiful pictures!! 🙂

    February 18, 2013
    • Thanks Sophie, I really lucked out with the weather. 🙂

      February 19, 2013
  7. Reblogged this on Haute Mom Living and commented:
    A look inside into the beautiful side of the Chinese New Year!

    February 22, 2013
    • Appreciate that, thanks for reblogging!

      February 23, 2013
  8. Rather belated New Year wishes to you James!
    We celebrate several New Years, but none as colourful as yours! Thanks for educating me on the name of that fruit. Saw some in Bangkok and have been trying to figure out what it is called since! It seems more like the face of an animal, rather than any of those appendages listed by Wiki 😀

    February 23, 2013
    • Thank you, Madhu! I can’t say I’ve ever experienced any Indian New Years, Diwali or otherwise – perhaps that will come in the near future. 😀 As for the fruit, I grew up thinking it resembled a cartoon character more than anything else!

      February 23, 2013
  9. Great!really beautiful 😉

    September 13, 2013
    • Glad you enjoyed the photos! 🙂

      September 15, 2013

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