The saying “Hua Kai Fu Gui” (when flowers bloom, prosperity comes) helps to explain why flowers are so central to the celebration of the New Year in China. Flowers and plants represent the joy of reawakening and new growth following the long winter gloom. Shortly before the start of the festival it is customary to clear out dead plants and flowers from your home as these are considered unlucky. Then the Lunar New Year flower markets spring up in Hong Kong and are flooded with people seeking decorate their homes with new auspicious plants and flowers like the lotus, orchids and plum blossom to secure good fortune and prosperity for the Year of the Snake. We went to the market in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay to join in with this classic holiday shopping experience and it was just heaving!
Nonetheless we dived into the crowds and were rewarded with the most incredible stalls, all selling only one or two types of flower or plant – very specialist! I have already written about the significance of the “golden nugget” tangerine bushes in a previous post, but I hadn’t seen them en masse before. This stall had so many it was on three specially constructed bamboo scaffolded storeys!
The orchid symbolises beauty, wealth and luck and, as this encompasses the traditional Chinese New Year message, is a particularly popular gift for friends and family. Red, which symbolises happiness is, along with gold, one of the main colour themes associated with Chinese New Year. Consequently pink (as well as red!) plants are extremely popular.
The Chinese plum blossom is a flower that is celebrated across Asia and is often seen in traditional Chinese paintings. Emerging before the leaves and bursting forth onto seemingly lifeless branches at the end of winter, to the Chinese the plum blossom symbolises courage and hope so is a perfect fit for Chinese New Year decorations.
There were also lots of stalls selling arrangements of strange fruit wired into miniature tree shapes. Other than being yellow I haven’t been able to find a particular significance tying these to CNY traditions – perhaps it’s just a Hong Kong thing?! We currently have one of these on our dining room table – it’s lovely (despite the comedy name)!
Need to know:
The Lunar New Year flower markets are held at a number of locations across Hong Kong over the week prior to New Year’s Day. They are free to attend but are often flooded with mainland tour groups and are extremely crowded, especially in the evenings, so go prepared! Further details available from Discover Hong Kong