So, it’s Chinese New Year (CNY). This year it falls on February 12. While we expect things to be a bit different this time round, Hong Kong is making every effort to welcome the festival in its own inimitable style by wedding traditional elements with innovative ideas. Although there will be no physical events because of the Covid-19 situation, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is turning the celebrations up a notch by infusing cherished traditions with online, innovative elements, and by sending festive blessings in a whole new way. A three-week “Fortunes in Hong Kong” CNY campaign has been rolled out in an “online+offline” format from 8 to 26 February at www.discoverhongkong.com/CNY, featuring a creative online market, which offers CNY delicacies and specialities, alongside some cool content, including games, lucky feng shui tips and festive e-cards to allow participants to feel the festive vibe across borders.
Read: Kung Hei Fat Choi!
A hallowed CNY tradition in Hong Kong is a visit to the city’s renowned flower market in Prince Edward, Kowloon, where locals buy seasonal flowers and plants that symbolise various good wishes. Tangerine trees are believed to bring good luck, while orchids symbolise fertility and refinement. Paying respect to deities is another customary practice. During CNY, thousands of HongKongers visit one or more famous temples, such as the Che Kung Temple, Wong Tai Sin Temple and Man Mo Temple, to pray for health and prosperity in the coming year. These temples are architecturally beautiful, with brightly decorated shrines, perfect for ringing in the new year. Fai chun, a traditional decoration in doorways and on walls, is also an essential item to create a joyful festive atmosphere and to bring good luck and prosperity.
At the creative online market, a collection of delightful crossover products, jointly created by traditional local vendors and trend-setting brands, are available for those hoping to enjoy the CNY celebrations in style. Not to be missed is a collaboration between the 73-year-old Kung Lee Sugar Cane Drink and chic candy brand Papabubble. Together they’ve created handmade candies with different herbal tea flavours to elevate these old-fashioned, sometimes bitter, drinks to a new level. In another proud local collaboration, traditional snack store Yiu Fung has partnered with creative printing company Papery to pack its most popular classic snacks into a beautifully designed CNY candy box.
A live virtual tour organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, just before CNY kicked in, gave us a glimpse into the festive preparations as well as illuminating insights into some of the most-loved CNY traditions. Two marvellous hosts, including celebrity chef Christian Yang, whisked us around a few of Hong Kong’s most iconic locations. The tour kicked off with a visit to the very instagrammable Man Mo Temple. Built in 1847, it is dedicated to the god of literature and the god of war. Locals flock to this temple to light incense sticks and seek blessings, especially around the new year.
Then we were off to Upper Lascar Row. No CNY is complete without a spot of shopping for gifts and this street, lined with stylish boutiques and antique stores, is perfect for some retail therapy. This was followed by a visit to Ladder Street, Hong Kong’s historic stone staircase, which was recognised as a Grade 1 Built Heritage site in 2009, where many calligraphy artists offer hand-painted good luck signs to hang up around homes at this time. The walk made a sweet finish at the iconic Yiu Fung Store, bursting with yummy retro-style candies, without which no CNY is complete.
Hopefully, the Year of the Ox will be a blissful and enjoyable one. Kung Hei Fat Choi! (Congratulations and best wishes for a prosperous New Year!)