The one thing you have to do every Chinese New Year if you live in Hong Kong is to visit the Chinese New Year Flower Market, or 中國新年花市. This huge, chaotic market located yearly at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay began as a flower market to sell New Year's flowers to all the households preparing for the New Year (one must have flowers in the house for New Year!) and has evolved over the years into not only an amazing flower market but also general fair or market, where anything and everything is sold, from toys to gadgets to political literature and t-shirts. Everything with strong emphasis on preparing and celebrating for the upcoming Chinese New Year, of course. We go every year to enjoy the very festive (though very crowded) atmosphere, to buy a balloon (a giraffe balloon!) and a toy or two for my little girl and, most importantly, to pick up our Chinese New Year's Flowers 中國新年花. The Chinese New Year Flower Market is just so gorgeous and fun, with festive and colorful New Year's flowers as far as the eye can see!
This absolutely gorgeous flower is the Narcissus, or 水仙. You buy bulbs of these flowers and put them in a pretty wide shallow pot filled with water, tie around them with a bit of red ribbon and then wait for the blossoms to bloom. If your luck is with you the beautiful and oh so fragrant! blossoms of the Narcissus will open with the New Year's Day and stay, golden and lovely, with you throughout the Chinese New Year festivities. We used to really fret over these flowers, worried that bad luck would come in our door if the blossoms didn't open in time. And then...we learned that there's a secret trick (but of course!) to the blossoms opening on time. Let the flower have some heat, in your warm kitchen, near a heater, under a lamp, etc. and the blossoms will hurry right along for the perfect New Year's Day opening! (But not heated water, mind you, just heated air!)
These pots of tangerine or orange trees, or 桔, are so happy looking that I smile just to see them! The chinese word 桔 sounds the same as the word 吉, which means fortunate or lucky, and so people will buy pots of these to place in their doorways to wave in the auspiciousness for the coming year. Every doorway, and I mean every doorway, in Hong Kong right now has symmetrical pots of tangerine trees, from small to tall, outside its door! We bought a kumquat tree this year rather than a tangerine tree, so that we can reap the fruits after the New Year and make more our yummilicious Chinese Candied Kumquats!
This is my 媽媽's favorite flower, the orchid, or 蘭花. So elegant this flower, the exact definition of the perfect chinese lady: refined, elegant, upstanding, subtle. So many variations, too, there are so many kinds of orchid blossoms in every color that is beautiful! These don't come cheap, though, orchids will cost you a pretty penny, but these delicate blossoms are worth every cent!
This vision of goldenness is popular choice for those fixated on bringing home the bacon in the coming year. What better to bring in the luck and money than a Chinese New Year tree built up from these little golden fruits, the Five Fingered Eggplant 五代同堂 (also known as the Titty Fruit, Nipple Fruit and Cow's Udder) that are shaped like bountiful breasts? The goldenness of the tree will bring you luck and the breasts will bring you fertility! Just remember not to taste these luscious golden fruit, as these lasciviously shaped lovelies will poison you.
If you've got the room for it you must seriously consider the Peach Blossom Tree, or 桃花樹. The exquisite pink to red blossoms bloom from a tree bare of all else in the late winter, a marker of the coming renewal of spring. This striking graphical tree with its sinuously bare branches accentuated by bursts of the most delicate childlike pink blossoms is a wonder to behold and a popular Chinese New Year's choice for many malls and offices in Hong Kong where one can see amazing Peach Blossom Trees that are as big as my little house! But no worries, the Peach Blossom Tree comes in small sizes too, small enough maybe just maybe to fit in one big corner of the shoebox we live in.
This is my favorite flower of them all, the Peony, or the 牡丹. The Peony is to me the undisputed Queen of flowers, an exquisite, elegant, ethereal flower that graces its gnarled leafy branches with large impossibly delicate blooms of stunning colors evocative of an enduring chinese aesthetic. From the bulb to the blossom to the wilt of petals, the peony is always beautiful and full of character, a joy of a flower to fall in love with, as I did long ago!
Bring luck, fertility, and all sorts of good things into your home this Chinese New Year with plentiful pots and vases of these gorgeous and auspicious Chinese New Year's flowers! The Hong Kong Victoria Park Chinese New Year Flower Market is held for the 5 days leading up to the first day of the Chinese New Year (which is the 19th of Feb this year), so you still have time to go and enjoy the festive fun and get a great deal on your New Year's flowers!! 恭喜發財! 吉祥如意!
What is your favorite Chinese New Year Flower?
Delicious Chinese New Year Recipes at The Hong Kong Cookery:
Tong Yuan Rice Dumpling 黑芝麻湯圓
Chinese New Year Cake Nian Gao 年糕
Stir Fried Nian Gao Rice Cakes 炒年糕