February 8 Longhua Flower Market

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Ann standing in front of the entrance to the Longhua Chinese New Year flower market.

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.

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Vendor selling goldfisn and carp at the Longhua flower market.

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Orchids for sale

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.

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Red top plants for sale

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!

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Ann stands next to some orange trees in pots

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!

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Jeff standing next to some large potted orange 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.

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Ann picks out her gourd “tree” at the flower market

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.

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Lots of gourd trees for sale

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!

2 thoughts on “February 8 Longhua Flower Market

  1. The lack of New Year’s cake is somewhat perplexing. According to the wikipedia page on New Year cake (http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%B9%B4%E7%B3%95), it’s common in Taiwan, but also in northern China, Guangdong, Jiangnan and Fujian. So there shouldn’t be a shortage of it in mainland China. Possibly, it’s that in Guangdong, it’s not solely a food eaten around New Year’s time (just like radish cake can be eaten year round, so can New Year’s cake). Another interesting note from reading that wiki article is that it mentions not to give New Year’s cake to someone in Taiwan because apparently that is done when the recipient is in mourning.

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