Chinese New Year is the biggest festival in Hong Kong. We have three days off (woo!) and this year we have a bonus half day (double woo!). A friend asked me if we would be celebrating, and I said not really, it’s more like a mini-break from work, that’s all. But thinking about it, I have been getting into the festive spirit more over the years.
In the past, we’d use it as an occasion to leave town. If you’re not Chinese, there’s not much to do as the essence of the festival is celebrating with family. If there’s one time when Hong Kong gets partially shut down it’s now. There was a time when no shops would be open during the festival (because all the staff were out celebrating with their families) so one had to literally stock up on groceries. Now the major supermarkets are open, so you’re not exactly going to starve if you don’t do a huge grocery run before the festival. And because a huge number of Mainland tourists flock to Hong Kong, more non-essential shops are open as well. I think. I will find out.
This year, I noticed that our family is not entirely divorced from the spirit of things. For example, this year, we bought the kids Chinese jackets. Benji had to wear traditional clothes to school for a party and so we got Mimi a jacket too, and they looked so cute in them, that I wondered why I had never done it before. And they absolutely loved wearing their jackets and running around. Hell, now I want a jacket myself. Or a cheongsam. Hmmm.
Last year, I visited the Chinese New Year flower market at Victoria Park on a work thing, and I thought it was awesome. I kicked myself for not going before. It’s not just a flower market but an all-manner-of-things market. The products are getting quirkier, with anti-government cushions and fai chuns with funny sayings on them for example. I was determined to take the kids and go this year, but Mimi came down with a cold so we skipped it, and anyway my friends in office advised taking the kids because of the crowds. However, I might still squeeze in a visit with V.
Since a couple of years ago, we’ve been buying the traditional turnip cake. I had been thinking about getting it this year, and then this morning turns out V already did. Yum!
Of course, the biggest part of the festival is giving out lai see. I make it a point to give a good amount to our building security guards. I’m always confused and embarrassed about whether to give to the singletons in my office.
There’s also a big fireworks display on the first day of the New Year, which I am undecided about taking the kids to. It’s awesome but it’s at 8 o’clock and one has to stand for ages to get a good place. Let’s see.
And sometime next week, there’ll be a lion dance in our building to bring luck. I’m like a child in my excitement about lion and dragon dances.
I’ve also been wanting to put up a fai chun on our door but I’m not sure which one to pick. Next year maybe.