Chinese New Year: Trees

Not only are there a lot of flowers that hold special meanings for Chinese New Year – there are also fruit and other symbols.

The kumquat tree is one of them. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of little orange trees appearing in front of shops, in lobbies, at offices and all kind of different places. This is all because of the Chinese New Year and it’s a play on words. In Chinese the kumquat is called Gam Gat Sue. The word Gam rhymes with the Chinese word for gold, and the word Gat rhymes with the Chinese word for luck. The tiny green leaves of this plant symbolise wealth as the word Luk (green) rhymes with the Chinese word for wealth. Finally the shape of the small oranges are a symbol of unity and perfection. The plant symbolizes good luck in China and before and after the New Year, you can frequently see kumquat trees decorated with red envelopes (for wealth and prosperity in the New Year) – which looks really nice!

I’ve also noticed a lot of yellow fruits (slightly shaped like a lemon) being tied together in the shape of a tree. Someone told me that these are Solanum pseudocapsicum. Its common name is Christmas cherry, winter cherry or Jerusalem cherry. The fruits which are inedible and poisonous, changes colour from pale green to yellow to orange to red which make them look like precious gems of jade, gold and rubies. Interesting, but clearly nothing I need to keep in my flat. It’s nicer to watch the stalls on the street selling these plans.

Also, some bare-looking branches are often arranged inside buildings – we’ve got some in our lobby, even a whole bare-looking tree. Inside the building, it’s warm enough for the branches and trees to start blossoming, and because these are plum branches and trees, the blossoms are really beautiful coloured. From purple, to pink and white. Lovely to look at! They are called plum blossom, a specific variety of plum native to Asia and also known as the ume plum. Ume flowers have special significance in Asian culture, especially in China and Japan, where they are prized for their beauty and delicacy. Perfect for the new year!

Finally, lucky bamboo also seems to be important for New Year. Lucky bamboo, believed by Chinese Fen Shui, will bring prosperity, fortune and happiness to whoever has them, and improve feng shui (or Chi) wherever they are placed. So no wonder I’ve seen a lot being sold around the last couple of days!



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