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Plum Blossoms and Water Narcissus Chinese New Year Symbols of Prosperity

Updated on February 17, 2015
Plum blossoms will flower in the bitter winter from a branch that seems lifeless, which to the Chinese symbolizes hope and courage. A very important symbol for Chinese New Year celebration
Plum blossoms will flower in the bitter winter from a branch that seems lifeless, which to the Chinese symbolizes hope and courage. A very important symbol for Chinese New Year celebration | Source

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.

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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.

Cut cherry blossoms will adorned the house as part of Chinese New Year decoration as it  symbolizes hope and purity
Cut cherry blossoms will adorned the house as part of Chinese New Year decoration as it symbolizes hope and purity | Source

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.

White and yellow plum blossoms are the other varieties. The red and pink are, however more significant for Chinese New Year celebration
White and yellow plum blossoms are the other varieties. The red and pink are, however more significant for Chinese New Year celebration | Source

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.

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Water narcissus, also known as daffodil symbolizes good luck and fortune during Chinese New Year
Water narcissus, also known as daffodil symbolizes good luck and fortune during Chinese New Year | Source

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.

Narcissus carving is an art that has developed in China for more than 1000 years and this water narcissus will be a popular plant for display during Chinese New Year
Narcissus carving is an art that has developed in China for more than 1000 years and this water narcissus will be a popular plant for display during Chinese New Year | Source

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

Narcissus carving is an addictive art that will produce an interesting end result for your Chinese New Year decoration
Narcissus carving is an addictive art that will produce an interesting end result for your Chinese New Year decoration | Source
  • 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.

If you can't afford narcissus carving, cut water narcissus placed in vase is a good alternative for Chinese New Year Celebration to bring in good fortune
If you can't afford narcissus carving, cut water narcissus placed in vase is a good alternative for Chinese New Year Celebration to bring in good fortune | Source

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.

Artificial plum blossoms with Chinese New Year decoration, in a hotel in Malaysia
Artificial plum blossoms with Chinese New Year decoration, in a hotel in Malaysia | Source

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.)

Pussy willow is a good alternative flower to have during Chinese New Year
Pussy willow is a good alternative flower to have during Chinese New Year | Source

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

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    • profile image

      yy 6 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      nguyenthuyvn 19 months ago

      Vietnamese Ao Dai

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 21 months ago from Malaysia

      Thank you Robert Sacchi. I am glad you like the article and thanks for dropping by. hHve a great holiday and Happy New Year to you.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 22 months ago

      Thank you. A very interesting article with some really good flower decoration ideas.

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi MJ Martin. Your comment came smack on Chinese New Year eve, probably a sure sign of hope and good fortune :)

      Thanks for the visit and have lots of Plum Blossoms around your house this Chinese New Year month of Feb!

    • MJ Martin profile image

      MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 2 years ago from Washington State

      Plum and Cherry Blossoms are so beautiful. To me a sure sign spring will always continue to bring us hope and good fortune. Love your pictures. Interesting to know daffodils and willows are included. Many grow around here too.

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi aesta1. That was very kind of them. When you are away from home, small things like this matter during festive season. Thanks for sharing.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Celebrating New Year is not complete without Plum blossoms. Last year, to celebrate TET, the Vietnamese New Year, a Vietnamese friend gave us some for our hotel room. We were really touched.

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 2 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Hannemarie. You are welcome and thanks for stopping by.

    • Hannemarie profile image

      Hannemarie 2 years ago

      Thanks for the lovely pics and the vid! :)

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 3 years ago from Malaysia

      avorodisa

      CMHypno

      Bk42author

      Thank you all for the visit, compliments and greetings. Plum blossoms are usually available during the CNY season in Chinatown and water narcissus is actually daffodil, which should be available in the UK.

    • Bk42author profile image

      Brenda Thornlow 3 years ago from New York

      Very interesting post and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 3 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      What a beautiful hub greatstuff! I love flowers and to find out the traditions and beliefs surrounding them is fascinating. I don't know if we can get plum blossom or water narcissus in the UK, but I will see if I can find some.

    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 3 years ago from Russia

      Such a beautiful combination, indeed. Oh, and Happy Chinese Lunar (New) Year!!

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 3 years ago from Malaysia

      @avorodisa, Thank you for the compliments and the Share on Pinterest. Coincidentally, today is the new Chinese Lunar Year or Chinese New Year that welcomes the Year of Wooden Horse. Horse is usually associated with bearer of good things. Plum blossom is a symbol of courage and strong personality. A good combination for year 2014!

    • avorodisa profile image

      Anna Sidorova 3 years ago from Russia

      Excellent hub. Found it with the search tool on Hubpages. Strange enough, it didn't get featured. It's worthy of the best place on Hubpages. Great photos, very beautiful. The choice of the topic is really a win-win. Flowers are always an amazing topic to write about, especially when it comes to flower symbolism. Chinese New Year is an interesting subject, and so popular, also. You mentioned feng shui which is a great idea, too. Shared the amazing photos on Pinterest))) Good luck.

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 3 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Anne, I’m glad the article was interesting for you and thanks for the compliments. Now is the Chinese New Year season, which will fall on 31st Jan 2014. The florists will be busy with flowers and fruits that are commonly associated with CNY, which are Plum Blossoms, Water Narcissus, Pussy Willows, Chrysanthemum, Oranges, and Tangerines etc. Thanks for dropping by.

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 3 years ago from Australia

      Such a beautiful article - and the photos are also amazing. Thank you

    • greatstuff profile image
      Author

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      @sarahshuihan You are right. The rush for flowers, mandarin orange trees and other auspicious items for Chinese new Year is one of the coolest and fun things to do during the festive season.

      @teaches12345 Thanks for the visit and the compliment. For Chinese New Year, flowers are more symbolic in the cultural and traditional sense and it is important that the right type of flowers are bought or given as gifts. I do this every year as my neighbor celebrate Chinese New Year and I think by now, I probably have given almost all the flowers that are considered auspicious!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      The photos posted here show some beautiful flowers. I can't think of anything more expressive than flowers in welcoming in a New Year's celebration. Thank you for sharing the background on the flowers, how to cut and the celebration details.

    • sarahshuihan profile image

      Sarah 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub. One of the coolest things is being able to see these types of flowers at a traditional Chinese New Year's market. If you do this in China, be prepared for a lot of people!