Chinese New Year marks the start of the Lunar calendar year, and is always an exhilarating, joyous, and colourful occasion. The 2-week (ish) long festival is synonymous with fireworks, sparklers, and lion dances with drums, but it’s also a time filled with meaning, where families come together to share a meal, give the house a thorough clean to sweep away any misfortune before the New Year starts, and fill their homes with Chinese New Year decorations and Chinese New Year flowers and fruit to promote wealth, longevity, good fortune, and happiness.
To traditionalists, this most important of Chinese holidays is all about good luck and renewal, but some flowers, fruits, and colours are considered ‘luckier’ than others, so if you’re thinking about adding some Chinese New Year cheer to your home or workplace this Year of the Monkey, keep reading to find out how to do it right!
Flowers represent new growth after the long, dead winter, and are important signifiers of life and good fortune. A tree or plant in bloom will often bear fruit, which are seen as potent symbols of fortune. Here are the Chinese New Year flowers proven to be most popular during the festivities.
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Orchids are undoubtedly the most popular Chinese New Year flower. During the festival, flower markets and shops will be flooded with bouquets, pots, and arrangements of Orchids in a limitless variety of colours. Orchids are delicate, beautiful and elegant flowers, and in China, they have long been considered to be symbolic of ‘many children’ or fertility and abundance. Orchids also signify refinement, luxury and innocence or purity.
Another popular Chinese New Year flower is the bright and beautiful peach blossom. The peach plant is considered sacred in China, as the peach fruit represents longevity, and the peach blossoms symbolise romance, prosperity, and growth.
One of the most important symbolic flowers for the Chinese, the plum blossom represents endurance, perseverance, reliability, and courage.
This beautiful flower – a favourite with Spring brides – is associated with feminine beauty, innocence, affection, and charm. It is known as the ‘flower of riches and honor’. Red peonies are particularly auspicious during Chinese New Year.
The pussy willow flower is another popular flower style during Chinese New Year, as their full branches of fluffy, furry blossoms are associated with growth and the coming of bountiful fortune.
Narcissus or ‘Water Fairy Flowers’
This unique and delicate flower is a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Considered one of the most auspicious Chinese New Year flowers, they can grow in a shallow dish of water and pebbles, and they look and smell divine!
Fruits are another popular Chinese New Year decoration and, like flowers, are rich in seasonal symbolism. Here are 4 of the most popular Chinese New Year decorations featuring fruit.
Oranges are very popular during the Chinese New Year celebrations, as they look like the sun and are aligned with the yang (positive) principle, thus being a highly auspicious symbol of abundance and happiness. Potted shrubs are ideal for indoor decorations as they represent ‘the lucky tree bearing fruits’. It is traditional to place mandarin oranges along with a red envelope next to children’s pillows in every Chinese household to bring them good fortune.
Pomelos are an important fruit, whether it’s green (unripened) or yellow (ripened). Pomelos are used in cooking when in season, which is right before new year. They are symbolic of family unity and are thought to bring good luck to the household. It is common practice to decorate the home with a pair of pomelos, because as they say ‘all good things come in twos’!
Solanum Mammosum or ‘Cow’s Udder’
These uniquely shaped fruits are commonly used in building Chinese New Year trees, due to their auspicious golden coloured fruit. As the fruit has five ‘fingers’ (a similar sounding word to ‘sons’ in Cantonese), it is hoped that the house in which it is placed will be blessed with a similar amount of male offspring. Another reason it has been adopted widely as a harbinger of luck is that the protrusions are thought to represent generations. Five generations living harmoniously under the same roof would bring happiness, prosperity, and longevity for the family.
Grapes, Plums, Jujube, and Kumquats
This group of fruits is symbolic of good luck, wealth, fortune, gold, prosperity and fertility. The Jujube (pictured) is a type of date and also known as the red date, Chinese date, or Korean date. These fruits serve as holy offerings in Buddhist temples and are also used in cooking, as well as gifting among relatives.
Red is considered to be the colour of joy, symbolising virtue, truth, and sincerity, that also has the power to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. A longhand Chinese New Year tradition is for elders to give red packets (also a symbol of prosperity) to unwedded youngsters as a form of blessing for the New Year. Gold is another favourite colour of the Chinese New Year, as it symbolizes fortune and prosperity.
So if you’re looking for luck, happiness, and prosperity this year (um.. yes please!), get decorating with these tried and true Chinese New Year favourites! At the very least they will brighten up your home and work spaces and get you in the festive spirit!
Xīnnián kuàilè (“New Year happiness”)!
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