We had so much fun this year celebrating the Chinese New Year festival in Hong Kong! So we thought that before we leave it finally all behind and start in earnest on the new year that we would share some of our photos of Hong Kong celebrating the Chinese New Year, or 香港新春節慶, in it's own imitable style.
Most important and dramatic of all, of course, is the majestic Chinese Dragon Dance, or 舞龍, a traditional performance that is believed to bring good luck that has been around since 200 BC! We were lucky enough to catch a wonderful Dragon Dance performance in the mall the other day. You would not believe how loud the drums and clashing cymbals were! Could not hear a thing afterwards for an hour!
And you can't have the Dragon Dance without the amazingly acrobatic Chinese Lion Dance, or 舞獅, as well. These trained Lion Dance acrobats dance, leap and spin on top of metal poles like it was nothing! Here are the four lion heads waiting for the luck bringing performance to begin. Did you know that it is considered super lucky if you can touch the Lion or the Dragon as they dance by?
Here is the lucky Horse talisman that we caught from the Chinese Lions at the end of their dance. The Lions paused at the top of the very highest metal poles, shaking their heads and turning their baleful eyes to and fro before tossing these lucky talismans into the waiting crowd. Wow, what a crush that was! But we managed to grab a lucky talisman! Yeah! And of course it's a Horse, this new year being the Year of the Horse. 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse (according to the cycle of the five elements) so you Horses out there be prepared for a year of quick victories, unexpected adventures and surprising romances!
One of the great things about Hong Kong is how whole heartedly the city will throw itself into Chinese New Year celebrations. You cannot turn a corner or enter a shop without seeing another beautiful display of Chinese New Year lucky flowers, a welcoming Tray of Togetherness, or bold calligraphy couplets painted on red paper. The feeling of the city is so festive! One of my favorite sights is the huge peach blossom trees, or 桃花, that are somehow carried into the ubiquitous shopping malls and set in beautiful chinese vases to reign in all their delicate wondrous glory over the Chinese New Year celebrations. The pink peach blossoms symbolize growth, prosperity and long life.
The graceful chrysanthemum, or 菊花, an eternally favorite subject of Chinese paintings, is also a Chinese New Year celebration favorite. The word 菊 is close is sound to the word 久 which means long, so chrysanthemum symbolizes long life.
The Chinese word for tangerine, or 桔, sounds the same as the word 吉, which means auspicious, thus pots after endless pots of golden hued fruity auspiciousness line the malls and halls during Chinese New Year.
For the Chinese New Year the Chinese celebrate by wear new clothes, or 新年穿新衣. (A great excuse to buy new clothes, if you ask me!) And the more red clothes you have the better as the color red symbolizes good fortune and joy for the coming year. Thus my little girl's brand new beautiful red Chinese shoes! (But don't buy shoes during the Chinese New Year, it's considered bad luck!)
One special Hong Kong Chinese New Year celebration event that no one should miss, old or young, is the amazing, chaotic, huge Chinese New Year Flower Market, held every year at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay for the five days leading up to the first day of the New Year. The last night is always the best because the stalls stay open til morning and the massive crowds are at their festive best. The photo above was taken on the last night at 2:30 am. Look how packed with revelers it is!
You can find every kind of Chinese New Year flower for sale at the Flower Market. This little golden bulb, is the Five Fingered Eggplant, or 五代同堂. It has five little "udder" like formations on one side. It is a Chinese symbol of fertility (the breast-like shape, hee, hee) and the Five Dynasties that you will soon progenerate.
Another flower we found in abundance at Flower Market is the amazing Narcissus, or 水仙. In the western context this is the flower of Greek Mythology, whereupon the handsome boy named Narcissus saw his own reflection in the water and fell in desperate love. In Chinese 水仙 translates to mean Water Immortal, which is a tribute to the ethereal beauty of these delicate blooms with its truly heavenly fragrance. The pure white and gold of the Narcissus symbolize silver and gold. (Chinese are obsessed with wealth, can you tell?)
I think this massive Flower Market started out selling just flowers for people to take home and decorate their homes for the celebration of the Chinese New Year. But it has grown way beyond that and nowadays probably only one forth of the stalls actually sell Chinese New Year flowers. The rest of the stalls sell all kinds of stuff like lucky New Year talismans, lots and lots of toys, t-shirts, yummy chinese snacks, calligraphy couplets, etc. We got a lucky traditional style pinwheel this year, isn't it beautiful?! The pinwheel, or 風車, can help you to "turn your luck" in the coming year. Neat, eh?
This is a Pomelo, or 碌柚, which is a great gift to give during Chinese New Year celebration because the words sound similar to the words for prosperity '祿' and abundance '有' .
And that is the last of our Chinese New Year celebrations! What a crazy, yummilicious, cookery-wookery, fun time of the year! We at The Hong Kong Cookery wish you a Lucky and very Auspicious Year of the Horse! 馬年大吉!
For great festive chinese recipes check out our Chinese Festival Recipes page!Google