Take a walk through the streets of Chinatown in the weeks before Lunar New Year and you will see the sidewalks lined with fresh flowers and plants. During this time of year, families bring flowers home to signify the arrival of spring and the hope for new growth.
Just like how Christmas cannot be celebrated without classic pine firs or scarlet poinsettias, Lunar New Year cannot be properly honored without the age-old tradition of sprucing up the space with some bright floral blossoms.
Each flower and plant actually has a specific auspicious meaning, which you can learn more about in our Chinatown Flower Shopping Guide below.
Be sure to support Chinatown small businesses (like Grand Tea & Imports) by picking up some of blooms to usher in the Year of the Water Tiger. Your local Chinatown mom-and-pop shop will be able to help you find the freshest flowers to create an arrangement that will bring in abundant fortune and luck for the Chinese New Year. Scroll down to learn the meaning of each flower for Lunar New Year:
1. Silver Willows (銀柳)
Silver willows (also known as pussy willows) are seen as a symbol of growth, especially when green shoots begin to emerge from the silky, fuzzy buds.
They also signify wealth because the flowers’ name in Chinese sounds like the words for “silver coins”. These silver willow / pussy willow stalks require only easy care and they can last past the weeks of Lunar New Year celebration.
2. Peach Blossoms (桃花）
Peach blossoms attract love and prosperity. The more buds that bloom, the more love and romance will come—which make the flower very popular in households with single family members.
In Chinese art and literature, peaches are symbols of luck and longevity, while the blossoms, which tend to bloom after harsh winters, represent rebirth and the start of the new year. It is no wonder that you can see images of peach blossoms decorating the most iconic watercolor paintings from ancient China.
3. Narcissus (水仙)
Grown from just a flower bulb and water, narcissuses (or daffodils or water fairies in Chinese) are popular because they are the first to blossom after the winter—signaling the arrival of Spring!
They represent the popular wish for wealth and good fortune to come with flowers’ bloom (花開富貴). When open, they also smell like an absolute dream.
4. Sword Lily or Gladiolus (劍蘭)
A bouquet of of sword lilies (or gladiolus) symbolises the Chinese phrase (步步高陞) which hopes for a rise in career and self-development—like the flowers that bloom steadily from the base to the tip.
Buy a bunch or stick a branch or two into your festival arrangement to attract the best fengshui.
5. Lilies (百合花)
Lilies are called 百合 in Chinese, which refer to the Chinese proverb, 百年好合, which means "happy union for one hundred years." For the Chinese, lilies are a symbol for a long-lasting and happy marriage and family.