Happy Chinese New Year!

chinese new year hong kong cny hk traditions

‘Kung Hei Fat Choy’! It’s Chinese New Year again – the biggest holiday of the year. Yesterday marked the beginning of year of the pig.

So how does life change in Hong Kong during the Chinese New Year holiday? Most businesses shut down. Essentials such as supermarkets operate on only a limited schedule. Due to the nearly week long break, many people go away on holiday. Often people spend time with their family and visit relatives. Married couples give red packets filled with money to their children, relatives and colleagues. With the cease of most construction, the city is far quieter than usual. Where I live, you can hear birds instead of buses when you wake up!

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One fun part of celebrating Chinese New Year is going to the special new year’s flower market in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. It’s PACKED with four, three-block lanes of stalls and people selling all sorts of items to bring luck and good fortune in the coming year. The atmosphere is raucous and fun.

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Hawkers rent booths and decorate them (sometimes outlandishly) to attract attention. The merchandise on sale is extensive. Over the last few years, blow-up inflatable items have gained popularity. The plastic blow-ups are based on everything from animals of the Chinese zodiac, to items that sound like something with a double meaning in Cantonese, to items that deal with a current issue. For example, this year there were giant cigarettes, making reference to the recent ban of smoking in Hong Kong’s restaurants and public areas (which is a huge deal in a place with a deeply entrenched smoking culture.)

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Old standards meant to bring good fortune are also present at the market. These include different types of flowers and fruits such as small orange trees. Pussy willows (for financial fortune) and peach blossoms (for love life) are also two of the more popular choices. (I bought both!)

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Colorful paper and plastic pin-wheels seem to be popular items.

Small charms often in faux-jade that help to protect people of different zodiacs are also available for purchase.

Wonder what it’s like to walk through hundreds of stalls in a sea of thousands? Check out the videos!

Here are a few additional photos to set the scene for you…

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The following three videos I shot while walking through the crowds. You’ll see lots of pig paraphenalia, pin-wheels and people!

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