Plum Blossoms and Water Narcissus Chinese New Year Symbols of Prosperity
Chinese New Year Celebration
Do you know what the Chinese people do when they celebrate the new year? Well a lot of things actually and all these have their own symbolic meanings. They are also linked to many myths and customs.
For example the use of specific colors such as red is a common practice during Chinese New Year as it will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.
To have fruits such as tangerines and oranges in homes and offices is another auspicious activity as it is associated with happiness and prosperity.
Other examples are animal figurines such as those depicted in the Chinese zodiac and flowers as part of the home and office decors during this Lunar New Year.
As Chinese New Year is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar, they will have these symbols placed in their homes and offices to make it auspicious and to bring in luck for the whole year.
So, what is the significance of flowers during Chinese New Year celebration?
Feng Shui Element in Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is not just culture and tradition. It signifies a change in the Feng Shui cycle. The animal year will change annually with new implications taking effect. In order to enjoy the beneficial energies and changes in the zodiac direction, you need to adjust your lifestyle, house and office layout.
These can be expensive especially if you have to change and renovate with every Lunar New Year. For those who strongly believed in Feng Shui elements, the changes are mandatory. Otherwise, made do with small adjustments and adorn your house with auspicious items such as flowers.
Flower a Chinese New Year Symbol
Flowers represent new growth after the long winter and when flowers start to bloom, it signifies life and good fortune. Flowers will also lead to fruits, which is another symbol associated with fortune.
Hence, if there are no flowers during Chinese New Year, it will not be auspicious. It is therefore important to have flowers as part of the decorations during Chinese New Year celebration
There are many flowers that are associated with this celebration. However, the plum blossom and water narcissus are two of the most popular flowers that form important symbols of prosperity for Chinese New Year.
Plum Blossoms Symbol of Courage for Chinese New Year
Plum Blossoms are winter flowers and will bloom in late winter and early spring from a tree branch that seems lifeless. Emerging before the leaves, you will not expect a beautiful bloom to appear from its bark. The fragrance will also surround the air and in that cold winter, you get to enjoy the delicate scent and colorful blooms. To the Chinese, these symbolize courage, hope, beauty, purity and prosperity.
Plum blossom, hence play a significant role in the Chinese New Year celebration. Cut sprays of plum blossoms will be placed in vases in homes and offices as it also represent beauty and the hope for a fruitful and a good year.
Because of its beauty and importance, plum blossom is not only depicted in Chinese paintings, poetry and in classical Chinese dance, but is also associated with the start of spring in China and Japan.
Trivial Info on Plum Blossoms
Plum blossom was declared the national flower of The Republic of China (Taiwan) on July 21, 1964 with the five petals representing the country's five branches of government.
Plum Blossom Tree
The tree originated from southern part of China, but is now commonly found in other parts of temperate Asian countries such as Japan and Korea as well as America, Europe and Australia.
Plum blossoms come in various shades of pink, yellow, white and red. However, the pink and red varieties are commonly used for Chinese New Year celebration.
Plum Blossoms vs. Cherry Blossoms
Are there any differences between plum blossoms and cherry blossoms?
Yes, there are differences and some examples of these are:
- The Japanese called the plum blossom ume and cherry blossom sakura.
- Plum blossom will bloom late January up to February. Cherry blossom will bloom in April
- Plum blossom petals are round whilst cherry blossom petals are oval in shape
They do however have some similarities and these are:
- Five numbers of petals
- Comes in many varieties of colors
Both the plum and cherry blossoms are equally beautiful and a joy to watch during the bleak and cold winter and spring.
Water Narcissus for Good Luck and Fortune
Water narcissus, also known as daffodil, is a Chinese New Year symbol that signifies good fortune, prosperity and good luck. The Chinese believed that if the white water narcissus blossoms exactly on the Chinese New Year day, it will bring prosperity and good fortune for the whole year.
Hence, you will find water narcissus plants as part of the Chinese New Year decorations in homes and offices, in anticipation of a beautiful bloom on Chinese New Year day. Water narcissus has a sweet fragrance and that is another good reason to have them around.
Water Narcissus Carving
The Chinese has developed a unique art of planting water narcissus that will grow in different sizes and shapes. This Chinese narcissus carving has been around for more than one thousand years and is an art that has now become popular outside China.
The masters of narcissus carving will cut the onion-like bulb in such a way that will have the leaves and flowers to curl instead of growing straight.
How to do Narcissus Carving
If you are keen to try this ancient Chinese art of narcissus carving, you may want to try these simple steps:
- Cut the narcissus bulb about half an inch deep (from about half an inch above the root)
- Remove the scales from the line cut until you can see the leaves inside the bulb
- Be very careful so as not to damage these leaves and/or flower buds
- Use a special blade or carving knife to cut open the scale until you see the flower bud
- Trim these scales for both sides until it is half out
- If you opt to remove the scale from the top half (above the cut line) then keep the lower half in the scale (or vice versa)
- If you want a curving leaf, cut not more than half of the leave
- If you want a curving stem, use a knife to do a small tiny scratch on the stem
- Then soak this bulb facing down in water for five days. Change water daily
- Finally, get your desired bowl or vase and place this bulb with water at same level as the roots. Place pebbles, rocks etc. around this bulb
At the normal room temperature, you will get to enjoy your labor of love in about a month. A warmer weather will have the bloom earlier. Do not forget to change water every 3-4 days and have it near a sunlit area.
Other Flowers for Chinese New Year
If you live in tropical countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia, you may not have the opportunity to decorate your homes and offices with fresh plum blossoms or water narcissus as they are temperate plants.
Even if you do, it will cost you a lot of money. Some Chinese even have the artificial versions of these flowers for Chinese New Year.
However, other flowers that grow well in tropical countries and are auspicious for Chinese New Year are sunflowers, pussy willows, chrysanthemum, and azalea. These are good alternatives and they too have specific meaning and significance.
Flowers - Chinese Symbols for New Year
The significance and symbols associated with these flowers are:
- Chrysanthemum symbolizes long life, joy and happiness
- Sunflower is associated with having a good year
- Pussy Willow has multiple fluffy blossoms and this is associated with bountiful fortune
- Red Azalea is associated with balance in life, harmony and happiness
(Note: Although these flowers are temperate flowers, they do grow well in tropical country. However, the flowers may not be as large as those grown in temperate countries.)
Luck and Fortune all Year Round
You can surprise your Chinese friends with the above flowers when you visit them for Chinese New Year celebration.
Then again, you don't have to wait for the Lunar New Year to give these flowers or to have them in your homes or offices.
So why don't you bring in the luck and good fortune all year round with water narcissus, cherry blossoms, pussy willows, azalea, sunflowers, or chrysanthemum.
How to Make Your Own Plum Blossom
© 2013 Mazlan
More by this Author
Chinese Lunar New Year also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year is celebrated by Chinese communities all over the world. Chinese New Year in 2017 will usher in Year of the Rooster.
Yee Sang or Yu sheng is a raw fish salad eaten during the 15 day Chinese New Year celebration in Malaysia and Singapore and is available only during this festive period.
Do plants like music? It's a controversial topic: Studies have supported the claim that music can result in better growth, but many disagree with those findings. Hear both sides & decide for yourself.