Chinese New Year – The Works

You know what’s weird? February is here. That means I’m almost at the halfway mark of my adventure here in Hong Kong! Time really does fly.

Chinese New Year is still in effect. As in, schools are still closed; many locally-owned stores are also taking a self-defined holiday; and for the most part, this city is still pretty quiet. I’m out and about for work at 7AM, and it’s much more obvious during early hours. Of course when it comes to the evening, the city is buzzing no matter what – but I’ve noticed a lot more Mandarin-speaking people around these days. China gets a much longer holiday than us, so most of them are probably spending their extra days here in Hong Kong.

I have eaten a LOT of food over the past few days. When we go visit someone’s house to send them our CNY blessings, we always get presented with a box full of sweets and chocolates. And of course I take a small piece… but a lot of small pieces added together gets to be quite a lot of calories! I should also mention that Chinese New Year is the time when all the Ferraro Rocher and Lindt chocolate boxsets are exchanged. At home in Vancouver, this always happens during Christmas (I miss those Purdy’s hedgehogs!), but here in Hong Kong, it’s CNY. On top of all that, there’s just the general “hey it’s Chinese New Year, we have to eat good food” mindset. Not that you don’t eat good food during the rest of the year. Chinese people love to eat, it’s a well-known fact.

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One of the more interesting things I learned over these few days is that the largest display of fireworks occurs on the 2nd day of the Lunar New Year, every year. This show is half an hour long, compared to the NYE fireworks of like… 10 minutes. Once again, this city has shown that Chinese New Year is a heck of a lot more relevant than our Western New Year, despite the aging population of people that still follow traditional Chinese culture. Anyway, I wasn’t interested in going out to fight for breathing space with the rest of Hong Kong, but I did catch some of the show on TV. Oh yeah, the entire show is broadcast live, so there really isn’t that much need to go out anyway.

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Obviously I received a lot of red pockets this year, being situated in Hong Kong. It’s not everyday that I have a stack of banknotes at my disposal, so for the first time, I was able to see and appreciate all the different patterns on the banknotes. In Canada, we only have one type of each bill, because only the Royal Canadian Mint can print money. Here in Hong Kong, there are a bunch of banks that can print money, and they also change the patterns on their banknotes every few years or so, and thus resulting in many different types of the same bill.

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While I was shopping in TST last night, I also stumbled upon a lion dance show being held in Harbour City. It was going around to every store in the mall, and helping them “chase out their demons”, according to the Chinese legend… or at least that’s how I think it goes. It’s been many years since I’ve seen one of these displays, and after witnessing that, it seems like my Chinese New Year experience here is pretty much complete.

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P.S. The TST harbour was gorgeous last night! It’s not everyday that you get a nice clear view out over the sea. Here’s the postcard-perfect version of Hong Kong for you!

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