New Year celebrations started off with a bang, in Hong Kong. Synchronized fireworks exploded from tall high rise buildings in perfect precision to the music. My first thought was, how and when did they do the rehearsal for it? At night… when the population of the city were asleep in bed?

This was the International New Year’s celebration on the 31st of January 2011. Many expats had decided to take off to warmer parts of the world for the Chinese New Year which started on the 23rd of January but we did not want to miss any of it, and so we stayed. Many traditions are upheld by the Chinese, but one of the main ones is to have Lai See packets ready filled with crisp bank notes to give to anyone who wished you a happy new year. Kung Hei Fat Choi! The fireworks display we saw on the 24th of January from the Kowloon side were incredible and certainly beat anything I had ever seen before. Absolutely stunning! Decorations for the celebrations around the city consisted of trees with little oranges (kum trees) which are purely for decoration and the miniature oranges cannot be eaten:

There were plenty of dragons, lanterns and trees with the Lai See packets on them (not full of money I think or else the tree would be bare)!

There are many traditions for Chinese New Year, like you must visit your relatives on the first day of the Chinese New year and must not fight with anyone on that day or else you will be fighting all year round. The weather is always grim in Hong Kong for this time of the year and we were told that most places would be shut but that was not the case. When we went to the malls they were decorated beautifully, a little quieter than normal but still alive! It was great to see a calmer side of Hong Kong. This was one of the many puppet shows we saw in a mall:

The colour red is very lucky for the Chinese and as 2012 is the year of the Dragon, it is very auspicious. We heard that many people would be trying to have a baby this year so that their child would be born in the year of the Dragon. A child born in this year will be gifted with luck and strength, We went to a wishing tree festival which was magnificent and very colourful:

Entrance to festival

Stunning lantern The Chinese are very superstitious and everything they do is done for a reason and has a meaning. They are also very wise because a lot of it makes sense. We had to write our wishes on a card that was attached to a string tied to a plastic orange and throw it up a tree where it had to stay.

We did the same by floating our wishes on a candle in the water.

We were given bags of sweets that are meant to be lucky.

All in all it has been a most culturally enriching experience and we are beginning to love Hong Kong and the people here. So I must end by wishing you a very Happy New Year of the Dragon, 2012. Kung Hei Fat Choi. May all your dreams come true.