Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Golden Boar (or Fire Pig, which just doesn’t sound as catchy). It’s supposed to be an extra lucky year.
Chinese New Year in Vancouver is huge. Because of our large Asian population, there are events and celebrations everywhere you go – even the Safeway had a dragon dance in progress when I stopped to pick up some groceries. The Year of the Pig is supposed to be a good time to have babies and make money. Unlike the Western perspective of pigs, the Pig is one of the most generous and honorable Sign of the Zodiac. (I’m a dragon. What are you? Find your Chinese astrological sign here.)
From a gardener’s perspective, I’m interested in the symbolic values attributed to plants by the Chinese. Some of the meanings are quite amusing to me (the maple tree, for instance). For example:
* Chrysanthemum flowers symbolize a strong life. It is good to give old people chrysanthemum flowers because it means strong life. However, only red ones would be good because white and light yellow ones are used only at funerals. Lovers do not give chrysanthemum to their loved ones.
* Narcissus, lotus flowers and orchid are flowers which represent high virtues and elegance.
* Orchid blossoms in spring and it brings an air of high class respectfulness.
* Narcissus blossoms in winter. White flowers of five pedals and yellow stamen grow in pure water. It represents a sense of purity.
* Lotus flowers grow in pond water. Its roots are edible. Its flowers blossom in summer and are either red or white. The seeds are also edible and are often used as medicine. Almost every part of a lotus plant is useful though it grows in muddy pond water. That is also why it is compared to people who manage to achieve success in life though they come from a less prestigious background.
* Azalea flowers represent elegance and wealth. You can find azaleas on the Chinese one cent coin.
* Peach flowers represent beautiful girls. In Chinese tradition at Chinese New Year, people who want to find love will usually buy a whole plant and put it home because this will bring them luck in finding love in the coming year.
* Pomegranates gives very beautiful flowers. Its fruit is sour but contains a lot of seeds inside. In Chinese tradition, people put this fruit on the beds of newlyweds so as to help the newlyweds to make many babies.
* Maple trees in China represents old people who don’t admit that they are old because these trees blossoms in autumn which is near the end of a year.
* Lilacs in China represents modesty, which is one of the virtues that Chinese people value.