A twist on tradition - wishing cards with plastic oranges

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 January, 2011, 12:00am

Is plastic better than the real thing? Organisers of the first Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival certainly hope so for the hundreds of visitors expected to visit Tai Po next month.

A week-long festival of events at the Lam Tsuen Wishing Square is expected to extend the Lunar New Year festivities, including a market, best costume contest and a twist on an annual tradition.

People will be armed with a plastic orange attached to the wish they have written on a card, which is thrown into an artificial wishing tree installed in the square a year ago.

The custom, usually with real oranges and a Chinese banyan tree, was stopped in 2005 after two people were injured when a branch filled with messages and oranges snapped, hitting an elderly man and a four-year-old boy.

This year, a competition will be held on February 13 to test how high participants can throw the messages, with the winner receiving a cup. And a team of four with the best costume will get HK$10,000 and a cup.

'The skill in throwing the wishes is that you don't throw it with blind force. You should swing it like swinging a golf club,' said Chan Cho-leung, convenor of the event and a Tai Po district councillor.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, visitors can buy candle-lit lotus lanterns to place in a new wishing pool next to the tree.

A campfire party with more than 100 young men and women from Liannan Yao autonomous county in northeastern Guangdong will be held on Valentine's Day. The ethnic minority will perform dances each day during the festival.

More than 150,000 visitors a day are expected to visit the wishing tree during the first three days of the Lunar New Year. 'We hope the festival will continue to attract the public and tourists even after the Lunar New Year,' Chan said.

Other events include a dawn fresh farm produce market, food carnival, pets' carnival, and hiking tours. Joint activities with the Hong Kong Tourism Board include a display of floats from the New Year parade and a pun choi feast on the second day of the new year.

The festival will cost almost HK$4 million and is partly sponsored by the Mega Events Fund. It will run from February 11-17.