Sunday, February 10, 2013

Flowers and the Chinese New Year 2013


SB and I rang in the New Year by attending the flower market.  No, not the one in Victoria Park.  Do you think we're crazy?  We brilliantly managed to get ourselves invited to dinner at a village near Kam Tin and stopped by the Sheung Shui flower market on our way home.   Four years ago we had attempted to attend the Victoria Park fair and were waved away by a police officer.  Literally.  He was making emphatic arm motions in case the thousands of people standing in line looked appealing to us.


The best part of our visit to the Sheung Shiu market was that the family who hosted us for dinner were happy to discuss Chinese traditions and flower meanings at length.  We figured that red was for luck and yellow was for fortune.  I had been wondering about a yellow plant that looked like citrus so it was nice for the mystery to be solved as the plant was identified as Solanum Mammosum (Ng Doi Tung Tung), or "Five Generations Living Harmoniously Under One Roof." 


According to our hosts, chrysanthemums signify easiness with life, narcissus signify prosperity, lilies signify innocence, peach blossoms signify luck and are especially meaningful in the winter, tangerines and orange fruits signify abundant happiness, and willow branches represent the ability to bend without breaking.  I can't remember the rest of the meanings so if anyone wants to add any (or correct any that I may have gotten wrong), please do.  We also were not able to find out why flower markets occur in the New Year.


We brought home an orchid and willow arrangement along with lilies.  SB wanted more blooms but I didn't think our small home could handle any more scents.  On the way home an older Chinese man struck up a conversation with us.  He used to be a police officer in Queens and now lives in Monterrey Park, California.  I don't know what it is about SB that renders him easily approachable.  He was sporting his beard that makes him look like the Unabomber, which also focuses one's attention to his nose that has clearlybeen broken a few times.  Not a friendly look in my opinion but as usual, he was making friends with random strangers. I think that I look like a pleasant person but I don't get chatted up nearly as much as he does.  By the time we exited the train the two of them were guffawing like old chaps while the man's niece was looking at them in bewilderment.  At least she recognized that SB looked like someone you wouldn't want to meet on a cold, dark, new moon night.  Smart one, that niece.

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