Welcoming the year of the horse in Causeway Bay
Ah, the New Year Flower Market in Victoria Park, usually a cold shuffle through the crowds with not a flicker of sunlight in sight. But not this year.
It’s been a beautiful week in Hong Kong. In fact, it’s been a beautiful month – four weeks of blue skies and not a cloud in the sky to spoil it; a blessing for photography during one of the most colorful periods of the year. All that red and gold, all those colours and flowers, it just wouldn’t look the same in the overcast gloom of the past few New Years. Maybe it’s because it’s come a little earlier this year. Or maybe we just got lucky. Either way, I’ll be offering my own prayers to the gods of good photo weather as soon as I get chance.
The Victoria Park Flower Market is one of the highlights of the Chinese New Year preparations in Hong Kong. For the whole week leading up to New Year’s Eve, Hong Kongers will visit the market to choose the flowers and plants which they hope will usher in good fortune along with the coming new year. There are fruit plants and flowers, bushes and shrubs, most of them in some way representative of wealth, prosperity or general good fortune.
Of those colourful goodies generally considered the most auspicious on offer, the mandarin plant is perhaps the most popular. They can be seen everywhere around New Year – usually obscuring the face of someone struggling to carry their oversized purchase home – and are considered both a symbol of prosperity due to their golden colour and of brightness and positivity for the year to come.
Then there are those strange lemon-like things known as solanum mammosum, more commonly known as the nipple fruit, or even, according to Wikipedia, the titty fruit. Their gold nugget-like appearance usually sees them presented in their own little money pot, presumably since fruit that looks a little bit like gold will somehow encourage real gold to materialise at some point within the coming year.
There are also souvenir-selling students, bags and cuddly toys. There are snacks and stinky tofu, and this year, more variations on horse-themed headwear than you could shake a bunch of daffodils at. There were even a couple of political parties canvassing for support complete with the now customary chief executive baiting.
There are officially fifteen different flower markets open throughout Hong Kong during new year week, though the Victoria Park event is the largest and most popular. By far the busiest day is New Year’s Eve when the market is open overnight until 6am on New Year’s Day. I went three time this week and each day the crowds were larger than the last. But with the sun shining and the flowers looking – and smelling – delightful, there was no better place to be for soaking up the Lunar New Year atmosphere and taking some photographs of all the happy faces. Enjoy!
Related Posts: You can read more about Hong Kong’s many and varied markets at category: markets