Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ushering in Chinese New Year with Greens, Blooms and Fruits

The Chinese Spring Festival (Chun Jie / 春节) which falls on 10th February 2013 is celebrated worldwide by the Chinese diaspora regardless of religion. It has no religious connotations, simply the joyous celebration of Spring, though very often, those of the Taoist persuasion offer thanksgiving prayers to the Heavens or deities and also for a smooth year ahead. During this period, Chinese homes are spruced up with plants, fresh flowers, and fruits following a long tradition of symbolising Spring and rejuvenation. A feel of Spring and festivity is strongly palpable even though in the tropics there is only the wet or dry season.
  
This azalea was bought three years ago and is still hale and hearty. It was from Holland and generally notorious for not blooming at all thereafter. So I was quite thrilled when it blooms frequently.

 
 It is pink with streaks of white.

This year I bought this salmon coloured azalea. The nursery people assured me that the China variety will definitely have repeat blooming.

I plonked it into this ceramic container with oriental design.
  
During this season many flowers, fruits and plants considered auspicious are on sale. They are steeped in symbolism of good fortune. Nurseries and florists are chokeful with a vast array of vegetation and cut flowers.

Huge blooms of Hippeastrum grown from bulbs.


Kalanchoes in lavender and vermillion are popular buys.

Hydrangeas from Holland is a standard offering at nurseries.






Chrysanthemums come in various colours, textures, sizes, shapes and petal configurations. For those who want them to last an eternity can opt for the fake ones as seen in the last photo, above. I was clicking away, thinking that it was real plant until I saw the not so realistic leaves.
  
 
Solanum pseudocapsicum symbolises abundance and fertility.




 Calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa)


 I'm not sure whether these fruits are tangerines or clementines.



This is the window display of Robinson at Gardens, a shopping mall in the capital. 'Chun' - Chinese character for Spring is written with fake calamansi.
Chinese Symbol Image spring

 
Braided Dracaena Sanderiana (Lucky Bamboo). The 'cage' is symbolic of trappings of wealth.


A broad strapped-leaf Bromeliad


 Pineapple (Ananas comosus) belongs to the Bromeliad family too.


It is considered an auspicious fruit. I bought heaps of these pineapples not so much for the message it conveys but more for consumption. They are sweet and juicy eaten fresh and the pulp is cooked with sugar to fashion into pineapple cookies.

 
It is a tradition for me to make these pineapple cookies for Chinese New Year. I stick a clove in each to represent the stalk and it gives the cookie a mild spicy flavour. Tiny gold ingots and traditional gold coins are some of the ubiquitous ornaments.


Here's to wishing all Chinese bloggers and those who celebrate this festival, 
"Gong Xi Fa Cai and Happy Chinese New Year"


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