Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

Causeway Bay Flower Market: Feelin’ Floral

Another Chinese custom (yes, keep up, there are many) is to have fresh flowers in the house at CNY for good luck. Every year, there is a big Flower Market in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay for you to purchase your flowers at ridiculously over-inflated prices but it’s become almost as much of a tradition to take a spin round here for luck as it is to have fresh flowers in the first place. And it is spectacular to visit – the perfume of all those blooms is just amazing (indescribable – you have to experience it first-hand) and the flowers themselves…! Wow! Forget the Chelsea Flower Show, there’s nothing quite like seeing the most beautiful perfection of orchids, lilies and gladioli in a rainbow of colours accompanied by squawking Chinese hawkers yelling ‘Good price, lang mui, good price!’ with the smell of curry fish balls hanging acridly in the air.

Nowadays, you’ll find as much CNY tat (giant inflatables, cuddly toys and costumes of whichever animal’s year it is) and dubious street food as you will fresh flowers, yet that’s all part of the appeal. Last year, my auntie and I discovered a stall selling deep-fried ice cream on sticks. We started with one to share between us to try – and five each later, we were hooked. I barely remember if we bought any flowers that year… but alas, battered ice-cream wasn’t there to distract us this time. Novelty windmills also appear to be lucky judging by their prominence at both the fair and the stalls around Chinese temples; we bought this very pretty ribbon-y fish one (pictured installed on our balcony).

We’re savvy sorts so we didn’t actually buy any flowers from here, merely “got inspiration” before getting them cheap at our local wet market. Buying fresh flowers always seems such a silly idea as they’re dead almost before they’re alive but they really do look gorgeous and bring you some sort of unique special feeling and pleasure. These sweet peas were my choice, as they were never strong enough to survive the hardships of British weather in my garden at home. I guess a garden is one of the few things I miss about home – but I never had to look after it did I?! Perhaps the life span of fresh flowers is just about right for my current level of responsibility-taking.

It’s the Year of the Tiger! (It’s the thrill of the fight…)

Kung Hei Fat Choi! It’s Chinese New Year and rawr… it’s the Year of the Tiger. I’m a tiger so it’s my year – and I went to the temple today to do a few bows for the gods just to make sure (more of that later).

CNY has many benefits – three-day public holiday, free spectacular fireworks show and the custom of lai see. Oh, lai see, how I love you. Also known as red packets, these little envelopes of money are given to you (traditionally, if you’re young and unmarried) by relatives, employers and even randomers to usher in good fortune for the coming year. [To emphasise my randomer point, my auntie today gave one to a waiter and last year, I was given one by a lovely little old lady who I’d only ever seen in the lift to our flat – still not had any luck tracking her down this year!]

Having never received pocket money as a child, teenager or indeed adult, the combination of birthday (November), Christmas (December) and CNY (January/February) money would often have to tide me over the whole year!

Traditionally, as the name “red packet” suggests, these should be red as that’s the lucky colour in Chinese custom. But Asia being Asia, nowadays you can get them in any colour that features on Joseph’s Dreamcoat and even with Hello Kitty and her pals on (then again, what can’t you get with Hello Kitty on here?!). You know my penchant for pretty things… these red packets my auntie and I spotted at the Flower Market (another Chinese custom… more of that later) were tooooooo cute. They’re shimmery, they have colourful cute tigers on (or cute children dressed as colourful tigers) and of course, I’ve dark-holed one of each for keeps for me to stroke before my auntie went gleefully red-packeting.