Lunar New Year
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Worshippers visit Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin to pray for good luck and prosperity in the Year of the Dog. Photo: Felix Wong

Then and now: Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

From time-honoured traditions to hi-tech fortune-telling booths, take a look at Lunar New Year through the ages

New technology may have influenced the way Hong Kong celebrates Lunar New Year, but many traditions are still going strong.

One of the city’s busiest temples has rolled out a host of social media promotions to connect with young worshippers over the Lunar New Year.

Automatic fortune-telling booths were launched this week at Wong Tai Sin Temple, allowing visitors to find out how they will fare in the Year of the Rooster.

However, despite the new gadgets, traditional worshipping practices continue at Wong Tai Sin and other temples around the city.

Local flower markets have been at the centre of Hong Kong’s celebrations since the 19th century. One of the city’s largest can be found in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. This year, posters titled “Take Back the Lunar New Year Fair” sparked an increase in police presence, with authorities guarding against a repeat of the 2016 Mong Kok riot.
Inside the fairs and flower markets, Lunar New Year staples such as ornamental cherry and plum blossoms, kumquat trees and narcissus bulbs are all on display. While the blooms remain popular, waste is an increasingly prominent issue. Last year, about 40,000 kumquat trees were disposed of - that’s approximately 1,400 tonnes of waste.

Around the city, calligraphers create personalised fai chun - long rectangular sheets of paper with Chinese characters that offer auspicious messages and blessings.

Red decorations, including lucky knots, lanterns and firecrackers, adorn homes and the lobbies of office buildings.

Giving and receiving “lucky money” remains a Lunar New Year favourite, although lai see envelopes have become increasingly creative. Banks, shopping malls, hotels and fashion brands are all vying for the best designs.
The first three days of the Year of the Rooster are expected to be mild, cloudy and warmer than the past two years in Hong Kong. Kung Hei Fat Choi!