Happy Chinese New Year!

Kung hei fat choi! (that’s the Cantonese greeting said at Chinese New Year – I think it literally means ‘wishing you prosperity’) Welcome to the year of the goat… or sheep… there’s some debate about which it is since the Chinese word is the same or very similar for either. From the majority of the images and displays around Hong Kong, I would say that most people think it’s a sheep!

Here is our Chinese sheep that Tom bought me. I think he’s quite cute :)

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Below is another Chinese decoration that Tom bought. It’s a bit random! Citrus fruits, particularly small oranges or tangarines, are very popular at this time of year. I think the fruit is considered to be very auspicious. Many people have small orange plants in their homes at this time, but instead we have the soft toy version!

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We don’t really do anything to celebrate Chinese New Year ourselves but all around us it’s a busy time. It seems to be similar to Christmas in the UK in the way that everyone goes to spend time with their families, but unlike the UK, many things are still open over this period so you can still go shopping or to restaurants and attractions (in the UK, pretty much nothing is open on Christmas day apart from restaurants serving Christmas dinner!). So for us it’s a nice few days off work and a time to see friends.

This year we have ventured into the world of red packets (or ‘lai see’) for the first time. The tradition is to give packets containing money to the people who serve you, and to those younger than you. We now live in a building with doormen and have a cleaner so we have bought some red packets and are in the process of handing them out to people. We haven’t put a huge amount of money in each one, I think it’s really hard to know how much to give but I hope we’ve got it about right! You’re also supposed to use new bank notes but by the time I went to the bank earlier this week, they didn’t have any new notes left in the denominations I needed, so I have some that are ‘not too used’ instead! Again, I really hope that’s ok! (but I’m sure no-one is actually going to turn down free money…)

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We also couldn’t resist buying Jack and Isobel some cute Chinese New Year outfits. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to get a good photo of them at the moment because they’re more interested in the camera you’re holding than having their photo taken! But we managed to get this shot, which isn’t too bad….

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Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel

Chinese New Year in Hong Kong

Kung Hey Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year (CNY) was enjoyed by everyone in Hong Kong because there were 3 public holidays on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which made a 5 day weekend! In actual fact, CNY lasts for 15 days so it’s still ongoing but many businesses have opened again and most people are back to work now.

I found CNY here to be a little more low-key than I was expecting. It’s normally a time when families spend time together, and there weren’t that many big events on. I found this article gave a really useful summary of CNY to the lay person (e.g. British expats!).

On CNY Eve (Saturday), we went to the flower market in Victoria Park. This was a massive market where people bought flowers and other decorations for their homes. This picture only shows about half the market!

Victoria Park flower market

Citrus trees are apparently very auspicious so there were plenty to choose from.

Orange trees at Chinese New Year flower market

These strange looking fruit are called solanum mammosum, and they are apparently a type of citrus fruit too (to me they look like knobbly lemons!):

Solanum mammosum Chinese New Year decorations

And here are some more solanum mammosum arranged in a very impressive display:

Solanum mammosum display

There were loads of other types of flowers to choose from too, including the most orchids I’ve ever seen in one place…

Orchids at Victoria Park flower market

…and loads of brightly coloured chrysanthemums (we couldn’t resist buying a few of these for our home)

Brightly coloured chrysanthemums

On Monday there was a fireworks display so we wandered down to the newly renovated waterfront at Admiralty which had a great view and wasn’t too crowded. It also gave us a view of some of the CNY lights on the skyscrapers:

Hong Kong Chinese New Year lights

I was a little bemused that many of the buildings had minor tweaks to change their lights from Christmas-themed designs to CNY! I’m pretty sure this little fellow used to look a lot more like Santa…

POAD Chinese New Year decorations

The fireworks display itself was very impressive, lasting about 23 minutes and kept up a constant stream of fireworks throughout. Here’s a few photos:

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So that was our Chinese New Year! Overall a pretty relaxing and very enjoyable time to be in Hong Kong. Plus, you could get around really quickly because there was hardly any traffic!

Thanks for reading!

Rachel