Wow, it has been a while since I have written anything. So much has happened and now I need to write about it. I believe my family and friends think I was abducted by aliens I have been so quiet! 🙂
Welcoming in the Year of the Monkey……
Buildings are swept and apparently smoked out as our smoke infested flat indicated, everything is cleaned and then decorated. Sweeping out the old to usher in the new. It is actually a lovely celebration with many
different facets. You will see tress with Red packets and often family members will get red packets or even teachers, we do enjoy those. My dearest Stella was a fount of knowledge as usual and was so sweet she even gave us a red packet! So the red packets are normally given from an older person to a younger person and can have anything in them, well money is the more common filling but not necessarily the only one. You can put messages and poems in them as well and then give them in these packets wishing you happiness and wealth for the coming year.
Mandarin Oranges,Plum Blossom branches/trees and orchids are big symbols of the CNY celebrations and have some auspicious meanings to the Chinese..When you see the photos of this time of the year you will see these a lot and they are not just for aesthetics.
In Chinese the word Tangerine has a similar sound to LUCK while orange is similar to WEALTH, along with the sounds the colours of the fruit can be seen to symbolise the colour of gold. Giving an orange or tangerine like wishing a profusion of happiness and prosperity on the person or to usher in prosperity and luck.Potted plants, especially Mandarin trees are often found in the Lobby or doorways of many shopping centers and most buildings. We had a few in our center as well as a few in our apartment complex.
You will also see huge Peach/Plum Blossom trees in many shopping centers and banks, HSBC had a lovely tree up with red packets all over it (empty of course, I saw that excited gleam hehe).I can’t tell the difference between the trees but then up until writing this I thought they were Cherry blossoms. I should really learn more about the stunning trees here.If you are really interested in more detail have a look here CNY Flowers.
So anyone who has lived in Asia, well in and Hong Kong in particular, will know that Chinese New Year (CNY) is a big deal here. In China they seem to get almost a month off at the schools while in HK it depends on the school. It was a very empty month at my center with kids not turning up for lessons and chat rooms or classes down to one or two students. I cannot tell you how tiring that is!
We had a very busy 3 days off, yes you read that right 3 days only as opposed to our counterparts in some other language schools and normal schools. To be exact I had 2 days off as the one day fell on my usual monday off, the frustrations! There was a ton to do, but we only did some of it due to the days the rest of it fell on. I went to the Flower Market at Victoria Park with S and L who recently moved to HK, we also watched the fireworks and saw the set up for the parade.
The Flower Market was insanity, thinking back to it my mind is still blown. I have never in my life seen so many Orchids in one place and the people, a never-ending stream. The MTR was running to all hours during February for all the markets as they were open to all hours as well. I swear we must have spent a good 3 hours just walking up and then down 2 of the 4 corridors. I remember being overwhelmed and feeling slightly claustrophobic by the sheer number of human bodies that surrounded us. I am glad that we got to go though as we walked off with 3 Orchids, a Plum Blossom branch, 2 tulips (S is Dutch so she had to) and then tiny cacti and on minuscule terrarium.It was an experience, I think next time if I am here I will try one of the other markets as well.
Try to imagine rows upon rows of orchids, different sizes and colours in one stall, then you leave that stall and you see more and more and more. then there were the rows and rows of Mandarin trees; in stall, after stall, after stall. Then long rows to walk up and down, with people who don’t follow very clear instructions and must force their way down the wrong way and a chill in the air as winter was still upon us. Walking for hours, struggling around people who stop in the way suddenly, shove you and elbow you out-of-the-way. All those people and that energy, it was incredible and insane.