Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Kung Hay Fat Choi!

Jen here. We're one month into the Chinese New Year--Happy Chinese New Year!! (February 14th was the first day of the new year) Kung Hay Fat Choi is the standard greeting for CNY in HK. My Cantonese teacher told my class that it means, "Congratulations getting rich!" It's an interesting holiday, and completely new to us!

In the days leading up to CNY, there are flower markets at some of the major parks in HK. I went to the main one in Victoria Park with a few ladies from a Bible study at church. Roy and I explored it in the evening as well. There were so many people; we were literally pressed up against one another while walking through the aisles!

True to it's name, this market did have many fresh flowers for sale. Beautiful orchids, daisies and much more, they presented a colorful display for our eyes. In addition to the flowers, there were many booths of tiger items--tiger dolls, key chains, hats, bags, shirts, etc. If it has a tiger on it, it was sold here. :) I thought about buying a tiger hat, but I couldn't decide which one! There were at least five different tiger hats sold.

So, why tigers? This year is the Year of the Tiger. The Chinese have twelve different animals that rotate for the years--tiger, rat, boar, dragon, lamb, ox, horse, rabbit, snake, dog, monkey and rooster. Chinese zodiac. Many fortune tellers publish new books each year to tell people their fortune (or misfortune) in the upcoming year. They speak of areas such as love life, work, riches, family, etc. Interesting.

CNY is the largest celebration--similar to Christmas in the US. We didn't really get to celebrate it, because it's a family holiday. All of our HK/Chinese friends spent their days off work going from home to home to home of relatives and close friends, visiting and snacking. Visit after visit after visit.

My Cantonese class teacher has been my main informant on CNY. I'm so glad I'm in that class! There are many "superstitions" (as he calls them), such as:
-cut your hair before CNY
-wear all new clothes for CNY
-do NOT wear new shoes
-wear red underwear (also when you want to have especially good luck, such as for a test in school)...I totally saw red underwear hanging on clothes lines too... :)
-do NOT visit people on the third day of CNY, you'll be more likely to fight with them

I have one funny story to share with you. One day as I was walking from the bus stop to the church, I passed a parking garage. Many of these have guards, and I made eye contact with this particular guard and he smiled, clasped his hands together and in the bowing fashion said, "Kung hay fat choi!" So I returned with my hands clasped, "Kung hay fat choi!" He seemed delighted and said, "Very good" and I continued on my way, smiling. I could not help it. I giggled and smiled about it for the next few minutes. :) How funny. Ciao.