For the past 21 years, I’ve always thought that winter starts in December. We have that Chinese family dinner every year to ‘celebrate winter’ around December 20th, so it made sense that I would assume that the season starts on that date. Besides, nobody really knows (nor do they care) in Vancouver. Then all of a sudden, today I open up my Facebook and my feed is flooded by my Hong Kong network with posts about the first day of winter – 立冬. I asked my coworkers, and finally found out that what I’ve been celebrating all these years is actually the winter solstice – 冬至. It makes a lot more sense when you think back, but when something you’ve been taking as common sense gets shattered after all these years, it’s always a bit weird.
So anyway, now knowing that winter actually starts at the beginning of November, I no longer think that the Christmas decorations come out too soon. Okay, fine, I never thought that way… I wouldn’t mind them being around all year round 🙂 But for other people that stand on that side of the fence, I’d say that we’re already into winter! It’s time to bring up some ornaments to light up your festive spirit. And that’s exactly what I’ve been seeing over the past week!
Seven days into November. Halloween is already off the record, and malls are hustling to get their Christmas garnishings in order. When I pass Maritime Square on my way home, I see this Christmas Paddington Bear display getting more and more elaborate every day. Starbucks is always the best indicator – when their red holiday cups hit the market. There is usually a short line of two or three people at the Tung Chung Starbucks I pass by every morning; today, there were at least ten people! Godiva has their Christmas boxsets out. Hallmark has their Christmas cards. Everything spells ‘Merry Christmas’ all over the place. For a Christmas-lover like me, it’s definitely exciting to watch as the city transforms into a winter wonderland.
By the way, did you know that the Starbucks Christmas drinks are different here? I thought they got rid of their caramel brulee latte this year (which I always order every Christmas), but it’s still on the Canadian website. Instead of that and the peppermint mocha, we have a toffee nut latte (which is really delicious if you get it half sweetened, otherwise it’s just sugar water) and a mocha praline drink (the nutty taste is quite subtle, so for the most part it tastes like a normal mocha drink; on the other hand, the mint flavour in the peppermint mocha is very obvious!). I’ve still yet to try the gingerbread latte, but I believe we have that in Canada as well.
Just for the record, this is also the first time that I can remember spending Christmas in Hong Kong. My visits always occur in the summer, when there’s more time and the airfare seems a bit more worth the experience. I can’t wait for Christmas to come!