Today’s blog was written by Frank Shang, owner of MRD Landscaping Inc, to show the important role that plants play in Chinese New Year. Frank Shang is a Certified Landscape Technician in Vancouver and columnist for Home & Realty Weekly.
Start the Lunar New Year right with the right plants
2018 Chinese New Year falls on February 16 and marks the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac.
In China, Chinese New Year (also called Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for East Asians. China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore and many Asian countries celebrate the Lunar New Year as national holidays. The dates of celebration are similar because many countries in Asia interpret the lunar calendar the same way. While Asians celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways, all celebrations have one common feature: family reunions.
Today Chinese New Year is celebrated all across the world, with people coming together to wish each other good luck and a prosperous year ahead.
To traditionalists, families come together to share a meal; give the house a thorough clean to sweep away any misfortune before the New Year starts. Homes are filled with Chinese New Year decorations and Chinese New Year flowers and fruit to promote wealth, longevity, good fortune, and happiness.
Chinese believe: “When Flowers Bloom, Prosperity Comes”. It is important that gardens are green & blooming and homes are decorated with healthy, vibrant plants. Care is taken to remove all dead, dying and decaying plants from sight. My post today is about plants and flowers that bring luck, wealth, prosperity and health for the Chinese New Year season.
Citrus fruits play a big role during Chinese New Year. The words orange and tangerine are similar to the Chinese words for luck and wealth and the orange colour resembles gold or money. Eating and displaying these fruits is said to bring wealth and luck. A pair of blooming lime trees are placed at doorways and living room to bring abundance, good luck and wealth for the coming year. In Richmond, Chinese nurseries have perfected the art of getting the plants to flower at precisely the right time so that during the New Year, the fruits will ripen.
Why is Citrus such an important part of Chinese New Year?
Giving citrus trees or citrus fruit is also considered to symbolize wishing good luck or fortune. In fact, the more fruit a tree has, the more luck and wealth it is thought to bestow. For this reason bountiful calamondin and kumquat trees are often given as gifts at Chinese New Year. Other gifts are often accompanied by fresh mandarins symbolizing prosperity; ideally they should include a couple of leaves to show they are fresh and to symbolize fertility.
Now, can you see why these citrus plants are so popular during Chinese New Year?
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 wide variety of colours.
Orchids are delicate, beautiful and elegant flowers, and in China they are considered to be symbolic of ‘many children’ or fertility. Orchids also signify luxury and innocence or purity. These flowers make valuable gifts in this season. They are also popular objects in Chinese art and culture as they are emblems of love and beauty. Their fragranced flowers represent virtue, moral excellence, refinement and reputation. Violet coloured orchids are said to bring the most luck, wealth and good fortune.
In Vancouver orchids can be found year round, however there’s a larger selection during Lunar New Year, especially in areas where there’s a large Asian population.
Red, which symbolizes happiness, is a prominent colour during Chinese New Year. As such, red azaleas are perfect for Chinese New Year. In Chinese, azaleas are called “ying shan hung,” meaning “a glowing mountain of red.” These blooming red beauties will add colour and brighten up your home. Azaleas symbolize happiness, harmony and balance.
Tips: Red Azalea is the No. 1 choice for Chinese. They may also choose other colours like purple and pink, but never white.
In modern Chinese culture Lucky Bamboo has become one of the most important plants for Chinese New Year. You may see it sold everywhere in Vancouver during holiday season, but this isn’t an accurate name from a scientific point-of-view. Lucky Bamboo is actually a Dracaena Sanderiana which comes from Cameroon in tropical west Africa.
Local growers use the principles of Feng Shui to train plant stalks into the shape of hearts or coils, weaving stalks together to make decorative braids, and potting a “lucky” number of plant stalks together. The Lucky Bamboo is wrapped it in a decorative and auspiciously-coloured ribbon to make an appropriate and affordable salute to the arrival of the symbol-rich Lunar New Year.
According to the Chinese tradition, the meaning of Lucky Bamboo is tied to how many stalks you have. Here are some of the meanings associated with different lucky bamboo arrangements: two stalks represent love, three stalks represent Fu (happiness), Lu (wealth), and Soh (long life),and eight stalks represent luck in wealth.
Tips: Avoid keeping a Lucky Bamboo with four stalks. In the Chinese language, the word used as four sounds very similar to the word used for death. Don’t give four bamboo stalks as a gift except to your worst enemy, as it means you’re giving the recipient a death wish.
Above are most common plants used in Vancouver. Whether you believe or not, bringing any plants into the home or workplace provides a health benefit. Traditional Chinese culture is ahead of the world culture on this. In traditional culture lucky plants are used to attract whatever you need more of in your life in the coming year whether it be health, happiness, love or money.
Thanks to all of you who take time to read this. I cannot thank you enough. “Xin Nian Kuai Le” to all of you, which is Happy New Year in the Mandarin.