One of the key traditions to welcome the Chinese New Year (CNY) is to clean your home and decorate it with flowers. Orchids, tangerine/kumquat trees and plum/cherry blossoms are very popular (see my previous blog post about the CNY flower traditions).
Last Sunday I visited the flower market in Victoria Park, which is open from noon to midnight every day until January 31, 2014. The market occupies the whole south side of the park and includes lots of flower stalls (of course) but also food and beverage sellers as well as shops with lots of knickknacks. I saw shops selling rubber ducks, pet houses in the form of a strawberry or pineapple, balloons and much more – but I was only interested in the plants.
Unfortunately the CNY flower markets are very popular, so at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon it was already busy – but it will be packed if you go in the evenings after work! So if you want to go and have a look, go during daytime or be prepared for masses of people!
I’m always amazed by the huge variety of flowers, bushes and trees being sold – it’s fascinating to see all the colour. The little boy with his dad was also amazed by the sheer sight!
It is important for Chinese people to have a colourful arrangement at home, preferably in red, orange and/or yellow. So a tangerine tree next to plum or cherry tree would be a classic combination – you might even want to add an orchid to the mix!
And regardless of how busy the flower market is… there should always be time for a chat, like these two have. I’m sure they are going to discuss the busy sales period ahead!
Another classic, but very poisonous plant for CNY is the so-called cow’s udder. That’s the informal name, given to it because of its shape. The official name is solanum mammosum, but I don’t think people call it like that. There must be an easier, maybe even a short Chinese name, to describe this plant. Often the fruits are just tied together in an interesting shape (like a cone or tree), so they don’t grow in that format.
You can also buy Narcissus bulbs. The Chinese like to decorate their homes with this beautiful white flower and wait in anticipation of its blossom, which symbolises good luck and prosperity for the coming year.
Of course, the most iconic and widely sold flower is the orchid – and there are so many colours and arrangements, it is almost mind-blowing!
Personally, I prefer the plum trees. If it were not for our cat Sam, I might have considered buying one…
… but actually looking at the people carrying plants home, in their hands, on the bus or MTR, did not sound like fun to me. So no special CNY flowers at our flat this year.