Chinese New Year – Gong Hey Fat Choy!

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

I cannot believe that February is drawing to a close, now the Chinese New Year festivities are over and mid-terms are around the corner, I need to get my head down (I’m writing this post first though, as it’s much more fun!).

Spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong has been amazing; many exchange students took the week off as an opportunity to travel. I was intending to travel to Borneo, but had so many issues with booking flights that I couldn’t go. This has been somewhat a blessing in disguise as I’ve been able to experience the CNY festivities in Hong Kong, meet a bunch of new people and had some spare time to catch up on school work and apply for internships (I’m desperate to prolong my time here!).

The festivities for Chinese New Year last well over a week. In the lead up to New Year, locals head to flower markets which are teeming with beautiful flowers; namely orchids, blossom trees, lilies and this tree with odd looking oranges on it. Other merchandise is also sold here; in amongst the busy crowd, toy sheep are shoved in your face by sellers, “Missy Missy, sheep also comes in pink!”, and there are other beautiful traditional gifts. I bought a lovely hand-made wind chime from the loveliest elderly ladies.

Orchids on Orchids
Orchids on orchids
Orange, Lemon, Peach, Apricot?
Orange, lemon, peach, apricot
You want a pink one, Missy?

The main Chinese New Year celebrations take place during the first three days of the lunar New Year. On the first day there was a fabulous parade in the evening with Chinese dragons, big floats, the biggest sheep you’ve ever seen and dancers from around the world. The second day consisted of a huge spectacular fireworks show, and on the third day there was a full day of horse racing at the famous Sha Tin racecourse.

All of which were so great – the atmosphere at each of these events was just unbeatable. Chinese New Year is the biggest and most celebrated festival in Hong Kong, and there are still other New Year traditions I wish to partake in before they’re over. I particularly want to visit a ‘Wishing Tree’ in the New Territories, which is an age-old tradition here in Hong Kong. Locals write their wishes down and tie them to traditional fruits then throw them onto the lucky tree in hope that they come true. The faith and religious nature of Asia is so lovely; if wishes come true I believe they return to where they made the wish to give thanks to the gods for granting it.

New Year Parade
New Year parade
Just a little sheep
Just a little sheep
Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Gong Hey Fat Choy!

It is year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram this year – the Chinese don’t seem to be quite sure which animal it is. “Gong Hey Fat Choy!” is how you wish people a Happy Lunar New Year in Cantonese, but it translates as wishing you happiness and good fortune.

Happy Year of the Horse!

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

Hey all,

So sorry for my lack of blog posts recently – I have been caught up in the excitement of returning to Hong Kong after Christmas back at home, and most importantly, with Chinese New Year!

Since the last time I wrote to you, I have been on holiday to Shanghai and Bali, had a few exams and had to say goodbye to all of the great friends I made!  After the most amazing first six months in Hong Kong, and having to say goodbye to some really amazing friends… I am back in Hong Kong for round two – Semester 2! Although I was happily settled, I was not entirely sure what to expect with new inbound exchanges. I felt no fear, but just excitement at the thought of having the opportunity to make new friends all over again and to share some amazing experiences with them in the next few months!

Since being back, I have been caught up in the buzz of Chinese New Year. It was the most amazing and surreal experience to be in Hong Kong for it! I had a whole week full of events, beginning with a trip to the Prince Edward flower markets where locals tend to buy lucky plants and trees, which are a symbol of prosperity for the coming year. Then on to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, which is an age-old custom of writing wishes and aspirations onto paper and throwing them into the tree’s branches (I hope my wish comes true!).

The main event was Tsim Sha Tsui’s annual Night Parade, with magnificent floats, hundreds of performers and a general street party to celebrate the year of the horse! There were thousands of people there, so it was very difficult to see the parade – but it was still a great experience!!

Following this was the fireworks display across the harbour, which was undoubtedly the most jaw-dropping firework display that I have ever seen! Check out my pictures below.

Now CNY has passed, we are starting to get serious with work! I hope that I can learn from last semester and the communication difficulties that I had faced and come out with a better approach towards assessments and exams!

Speak soon, Roopa x