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Your Guide to Chinese New Year Flowers

By Ching Yuen 24 January 2020

If you're serious about getting into the floral side of Chinese New Year, then you better go in prepared. The famed flower markets are a crazed (but very lovely) frenzy, and flowers can lose their cathartic edge when people are having screaming matches and others are lying on the ground in the fetal position, adorned with rotten petals from an ill-advised purchase. Okay, it's not that mental, but still, flowers play a huge role in the new year, so it's best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible so you know what you're buying. With our guide to Chinese New Year blossoms, you'll no longer be asking, "what do I buy?", "is that an orange?", or "what's an orange?". Good luck!

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Solanum Mammosum

These strange-looking fruits are also known as nipplefruit, but don't worry, it sounds much better in Chinese. These fruits are typically piled together to form a pyramid, and because of the five points that the fruit has, it symbolizes having five generations young and old all together in the family and in good health. After all, Chinese New Year is all about family.

Buddha's Hand

For a more quirky choice, some families will have the Buddha's Hand at home. This ornamental citrus plant bears unusually shaped fruit that resembles the hands on representations of Buddha, thus its name. The yellow orange-coloured fruits add to the festive atmosphere and are believed to bless the home with good luck.

Lucky Bamboo

Bent, twisted and twirled into various shapes such as the number eight, the lucky bamboo is the Chinese symbol for strength. The plant is decorated with red ribbons and lucky ornaments on Chinese New Year, and the number of bamboo stalks in one pot represents different things. For example, two is said to be an expression of love, while seven stands for good health.

Oranges

Oranges look somewhat like the sun and are aligned with the yang (positive) principle, therefore they're a well of abundance and happiness. If that sounds like some action you want in on, then get yourself a potted shrub for the house and watch the luck roll in - luck can roll apparently.

Pomelos

This is an important one as Pomelos come into season right before Chinese New Year, just note that both the green and yellow (ripened) versions are good luck. Hook yourself up with two of these and stick 'em in your house (somewhere good mind, don't put them next to your toilet like a sad-looking book of crossword puzzles). A pair of pomelos isn't just good luck, it's a symbol of family unity. Sweet.

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Orchids

The variety, pots, arrangement, bouquets, and colours of orchids available at the flower markets are dizzying. Don't panic. And don't listen to them if they try to say you need to buy 100 for the luck to work (anyone need 99 orchids?). They're all good, it's just down to personal preference, so go with your gut feeling on this one. Gift them to that special someone as they represent fertility, abundance, refinement, luxury, and innocence.

Peach Blossoms

Something of a sacred flower around Hong Kong and the mainland, peach blossoms are customarily placed in an expensive vase, or - if you want to follow my budget exactly - a mid-size polystyrene cup. These (the flowers, not the cup), represent romance, prosperity, and growth. Bring it on!

Peonies

Given that these beautiful flowers are associated with feminine beauty, innocence, affection, and charm, it's only logical that they be gifted to a lovely lady this Lunar New Year. Or, in my case, to one of my more sexually-insecure male friends.

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Pussy Willows

This refers specifically to the buds on the willow plant. Use the picture above for reference so you don't end up with a 'lucky' moss-covered twig. The pussy willow is a sign of growth and represents the coming of prosperity. We'll take that.

Narcissus or Water Fairy Flowers

One of the most auspicious flowers on the list, and also the best smelling (arguably), these fabulously named blooms are said to bring good fortune and prosperity. Our suggestion is to have an entire suit or dress made out of them - that will probably work and your smell game will be on point.

Grapes, Plums, Kumquats, and Jujube (a kind of date, according to Wikipedia)

On their own, these fruits are hopeless, but bring them together and a beautiful quad-fecta (much better than a trifecta) of luck will come your way. These fruits symbolise good luck, wealth, fortune, gold, prosperity, and fertility. Grab yourself some and use them as offerings in Buddhist temples and hand them out to friends and family, and they'll probably say "thanks for the jujube, I totally know what that is".

Kung Hei Fat Choi, Hong Kong!

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Having lived in Hong Kong, Beijing, and London sure is a fun fact whenever people try to guess Ching’s accent. She loves switching between all these language channels and her ‘mother tongue’ is just determined by how many drinks she’s had for the night! She loves movies, travelling, and exploring cities, from hidden alleys to gourmet dining, so feel free to hit her up if you need any suggestions for dinner!

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