On Friday evening, February 8, Jeff and I went to the New Year flower market. This was set up in the big central square park in Longhua. It is there for just one week before Chinese New Year every year. There were many booths, selling toys, Chinese New Year decorations, dried fruit and nuts, and flowers. The booth below was selling goldfish and carp for outdoor ponds. Mostly, people wanted to buy yellow, or golden colored fish.
These plants are common around here. The red tops are actually leaves, not flowers. Red is one of the colors in all Chinese New Year decorations.
Orange trees, with their branches filled with small oranges and tied up, were for sale in lots of the booths. They are a common holiday decoration around here in many of the malls and restaurants for the New Year. They are put in the center, with flowers in pots placed around them. You might say that they are the Longhua version of a Christmas tree!
They can get very big! And those are real oranges, clementines i believe. I wondered if people would try to pull them off and eat them, but they don’t seem to. Maybe that is because there are so many other good things to eat for the New Year that they leave the oranges on the trees!
When I first saw these golden trees, I was fascinated. What were they? It turns out that they are made from some type of gourd. The vendor had tied the gourd branches into a tree shape. This is what we ended up buying and taking home. I hope that it will last as long as the gourds due that I get for fall decorations at home.
Why yellow gourd trees? Gold and yellow are also considered auspicious colors for the New Year. Gold symbolizes money, and giving and decorating with gold and yellow is supposed to bring good fortune (and lots of money) in the coming year. So red, orange, and yellow were the predominant colors in everything for sale in this flower market.
The only “not in China” moment for all of our outings this week was our inability to find New Years cake for sale anywhere. I have been buying and eating New Year cake for Chinese New Year ever since I came to Boston many years ago as a student. This is a sticky, sweet cake made from rice flour and brown sugar. I have always assumed this was a traditional dessert for this holiday in China. When I was in Taiwan for Chinese New Year the past two years, I could find it everywhere. So I thought that it would be easy to find in Longhua. Wrong! We looked everyone; street market vendors, small stores, and large stores. We could not find it anywhere. We went into Shenzhen on Friday evening to eat dinner at Coco Park after we left the flower market because all the restaurants near the dorms in Longhua were closed. We figured that the restaurants in Coco Park because that area caters to foreigners. They were, and we had a great Thai/Vietnamese dinner and went shopping in the big grocery store there after dinner. And found New Years cake in the store that caters to foreigners! So, maybe New Years cake is Taiwanese in origin?
Happy Year of the Snake 2013 Everyone!