Chinese New Year is just around the corner - it's coming up next Saturday! Happy early year of the Rooster to you!
I have so many fond memories of Chinese New Year, growing up in Hong Kong. When I think of Chinese New Year, I think of visiting family, giving my new year greetings to the elders, helping my parents stuff red pockets (or lai see - little red envelopes with money in them), and of course receiving red pockets! Chinese New Year was like Halloween for me, but with red pockets instead of candy!
Even if you don't have family to celebrate Chinese New Year with, if you are in Hong Kong or Taiwan, you can take in the bustling atmosphere at the Chinese New Year Markets that pop up. Here are some of the ones that I visited and loved!
Dihua Street New Year Market - Taipei
Dihua Street is the oldest street in Taipei and many of the old buildings here have been preserved. It really is a very beautiful street, with architecture with both Eastern and Western influences. So even if you aren't here for the New Year market, this is a really great street to walk down. It feels like you're walking back in time!
Normally, this street is pretty quiet, but in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year, a bustling New Year market takes place here. It is arguably the most famous Chinese New Year market in Taipei. This market has been around for many years, with the first one having started in 1996.
At the market, you'll find a myriad of edible treats for sale, such as candy, nuts, and dried fruits and vegetables. These snacks are served to friends and family who visit over Chinese New Year. Many of the stalls hand out free samples as well, so you can give them a try. I loved trying the different dried fruits!
If you want to get away from the crowds of the market, I found the surrounding roads were still pretty quiet, and were a good place to take a break from the hustle bustle of the market. There were many interesting stores in the neighbouring streets as well such as stores selling goods made from wood and bamboo.
Dihua Street accessible via MRT. The closest MRT station is Shuanglian Station, Exit 2.
Victoria Park Lunar New Year Market - Hong Kong
For most of the year, Victoria Park is where you'll find joggers, basketball players, and tai chi practitioners enjoying some quiet time away from the busy city that Hong Kong is. But come Chinese New Year, this space is home to the biggest Lunar New Year Market in Hong Kong.
The Lunar New Year Market at Hong Kong's Victoria Park is lined with stalls selling flowers, toys, snacks, and new years decorations (or fai chun) that are hung on doors and walls with phrases that mean good luck. Interestingly, politicians also have stalls here, meeting voters and selling their books and merchandise. It definitely has a different feel from the Dihua market in Taipei, with it feeling a lot more commercialized. It was also a lot more crowded than Dihua Market when I went, to the point where I could barely move, so if you want to take a stroll through this market, maybe try to go earlier in the day.
Victoria Park accessible via MTR. The closest MTR stations are Tin Hau Station, Exit A2, and Causeway Bay Station, Exit E.
Flower Market - Hong Kong
This flower market is not technically a Chinese New Year Market, it's actually here year round. But just before Chinese New Year the foot traffic here picks up quite a bit, with locals looking for flowers and plants to decorate their homes for the new year. I liked the Flower Market more than the Victoria Park Lunar New Year Market because it was smaller and less crowded.
There is less variety available at this market. You'll find mostly flowers and plants here, but it is a flower market after all. There is a really wide variety of flowers, though! If you're wondering why flowers are such a big deal during this time of the year, it's because they are believed to bring good luck. Here are some flowers and plants that are especially popular around Chinese New Year, and why:
Daffodils (left) - These daffodils are the flowers I personally most associate Chinese New Year with. It's believed that if the flowers bloom exactly on Chinese New Year day, you'll have good luck that year! My aunt would buy one of these for our family every year, and I just love the scent that they give off.
Cow's Udder plant (center)- This colourful, five-pronged fruit can be seen frequently in Hong Kong around Chinese New Year. While it is poisonous, its Chinese name's literal translation in English is 'five generations under one roof', and stands for all the family living happily and harmoniously together.
Peach blossoms (right) - Peach blossoms represent prosperity and romance. These plants are popular with those looking for romance in the upcoming year.
Flower Market accessible via MTR. The closest MTR stations are Mong Kong East Station, Exit C, and Prince Edward Station, Exit B1.
As we come to the end of the year of the Monkey, I hope what's left of the year is happy and peaceful for you, and again, I hope you have a happy year of the Rooster!
This post is linked up on: The Weekly Postcard, Our World Tuesday and...