In both Hong Kong and Macau, a major tradition for Chinese New Year’s Day is giving flowers, potted plants, and bouquets as gifts. A lot of significance is attached to this custom, and the various kinds of flowers given as gifts denote different wishes or signs. This tradition is almost as important as the Western Christmas tradition of giving gifts on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
The residents of the two cities like and can afford very fresh flowers, so there are huge crowds buying flowers at the flower markets and flower shops.
Some flowers and plants hold a special significance when given as gifts on Chinese New Year. In Hong Kong and Macau, kumquat plants are a recommended gift. Kumquats are a small orange citrus fruit. They are like small tangerines. Kumquats are particularly popular since in Cantonese "kum" means gold. So you are wishing the recipient a financially prosperous year.
In Hong Kong, the crowds are especially heavy after people have their New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner, and they scramble to be able to present the freshest flowers on New Years Day to the various important people in their lives. They are also out buying other gifts on Chinese New Year’s Eve such as gifts, candy or special foods. The scramble can get intense.
Though some people in mainland China, especially those Cantonese who live in Guangdong Province, give gifts of flowers on New Years Day, giving flowers isn’t as important a custom there as in these two cities. It is thought that gifts of fresh flowers and plants give good luck. So it is a part of how Hong Kong and Macau people celebrate Chinese New Year’s Day.
Along with the desire to present very fresh flowers, another reason for the scramble of the crowds on New Years Eve is the tradition that stores should close on New Year's Day and for a while afterwards. The first three days of the Chinese New Year are legal holidays in Hong Kong. But the weight of tradition also dictates that shops should close and work should end and that everyone focus on family matters, reunions, important relationships, and religious matters at the temples and house shrines. Flower shops and stalls will sometimes stay open to even early morning hours, but the shops should be closed when the sun rises. So the shop owners may also be frantic about selling their stock of flowers and potted plants before dawn.
There are lots of stalls or shops at Victoria Park on Hong Kong Island and the Mong Kok Flower Market in Kowloon. The Mong Kok Flower market is permanent. About 100 shops are there.
Victoria Park: 1 Hing Fat Street, take Exit E from the Causeway Bay Station
Mong Kok Flower Market: Flower Market Road, Kowloon, take Exit C from Mong Kok East Station
Read more on Chinese New Year Celebrations in Hong Kong in 2014 — it is one of the top 10 festivals in the world according to Forbes.
Location in Macau: There is a traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve flower market at Tap Seac Square. It opens in the morning on New Year's Eve, but is best visited in the afternoon and evening, and it stays open late. There is a smaller flower market at Fisherman's Wharf that is a casino and resort and theme park located next to the Macau Ferry Terminal. It is only a few minutes walk away from the terminal.
China Highlights can help you customize a tour to celebrate the Chinese New Year as local Chinese do. We have more information on things to do and weather in January in Hong Kong and for Macau in January.