Valentine's Day clash with Lunar New Year poses dilemma

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 November, 2009, 12:00am

Valentine's Day is a day to spend time with a lover while Lunar New Year is for families. But when they both fall on the same day, who do you choose?

That is the dilemma Chinese people in Hong Kong and around the world will face on February 14 when the Tiger, whose year it is, goes head to head with Cupid.

And while it is anyone's guess which will win - a bow-wielding nymph or a ferocious jungle creature - some effects are already being felt.

Valentine's Day is a popular day for weddings, but Lunar New Year is not an auspicious time to tie the knot, and it seems couples are postponing their nuptials because of the clash.

'[Lunar New Year] is not a good day for weddings because in Chinese tradition our ancestors' souls may visit us on New Year's Day, and we should have dinner with our families,' fung shui master Edwin Ma Lai-wah said. 'Weddings are best put off until after the Lantern Festival - 15 days after New Year's Day.'

Florists, restaurateurs and Lunar New Year fair traders are also rethinking their strategy. For florists, Valentine's Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival are the busiest times.

The owner of Symphony Florist in Quarry Bay said the profit from one of those days alone was comparable to that earned in an ordinary month. But because of the clash of festivals, she is not even going to bother to open on February 14. 'Many boyfriends send flowers up to their girlfriends' offices, but the fact that it is a public holiday means our business will be heavily affected,' she said.

But Fleur HK, a florist in Central, will open as usual. Owner Cathy Ting said most of her clients were expatriates and the clash would affect her shop 'fairly minimally'. 'According to our experience, there are still tonnes of people who'll deliver flowers before that day to show their love,' she said. But flowers would be harder to find and costlier.

A spokeswoman for Lan Kwai Fong Entertainments, Caroline Chow, said Western restaurants would be open, while others, such as Vietnamese, would close because 'people traditionally like Western food on Valentine's Day'.

Restaurants that normally close on Lunar New Year's Day are considering opening. Harvey Nichols' French restaurant in Central normally closes, but a spokesman said they were considering 'opening for maybe half a day'.

Bo Innovation in Wan Chai, which normally closes for three days during Lunar New Year, has not decided whether to open on February 14. 'We're still working out the plan,' a spokesman said.

The Maxim's restaurant chain is open all year round, and this year is no exception. The catering giant, with more than 75 Chinese, Asian and European restaurants, 'will not be affected by the clash of the two festivals', a representative said.

'For the month of Lunar New Year, it's not traditionally a peak season for Chinese wedding banquets and we don't see a big difference in the coming one.'

Eric Chan Ho-cheung from Heartwork, a wholesaler of Lunar New Year fair products, said the overlapping festivals would draw more people, especially couples, to the boisterous fairs.