Similar to how Filipinos celebrate Christmas, the festivities leading up to Chinese New Year are extravagant and enjoyed by all family members. This year, Hong Kong presents a colorful and ‘new normal’ joyfulness to welcome the auspicious “Year of the Water Tiger”.
To kick off the Chinese New Year festival activities, many visit the temples to pray for blessings and good luck. To start the year with good fortune, Hong Kongers like to pray at Wong Tai Sin Temple, or Dai Sian, the busiest temple in Hong Kong.
The devotees will come to pray for health from the Taoist deity Huang Daxian. People would also pray for various other things, but most commonly, good fortune from Tai Sui, the Guardian God of the Year.
This year, the temple hosts a special online event where visitors can pray and send their wishes through their site.
The platform was created to accommodate foreign tourists and those who cannot come to visit in person. In addition, those who wish to send in their prayers can fill up the form, which will then be collected and included in the regular Taoist rituals held at the temple.
Wong Tai Sin Temple
Another key feature of the Chinese New Year celebration are the delectable, hearty meals served and enjoyed with the family. Traditional dishes made during the new year are believed to bring forth several blessings beyond their delicious tastes.
“Poon Choi”, is a popular auspicious food enjoyed during the Chinese New Year that is believed to bring abundance and wealth in the New Year. This Cantonese dish consists of several exquisite ingredients such as pork, beef, chicken, duck, abalone, shrimp, dried mushrooms, fish balls, squid, and vegetables.
Dong Lai Shun and The Royal Garden feature four poon choi dishes, prepared exclusively during the festive season. The classic Mutton Poon Choi consists of four mutton types and 18 other ingredients.
For vegetarians, the Golden Vegetarian Poon Choi primarily consists of carrots and tofu, along with 19 other premium vegetables that leave a delicious taste not too heavy on the stomach. Finally, the Sichuan Spicy Seafood Poon Choi is served with their signature Dong Lai Shun hot sauce and is made with 18 kinds of seafood, perfect for those with love for all things spicy.
The last dish is truly a Chinese New Year menu item: the Royal Garden Supreme Poon Choi, created by Chef Ho Wai-shing from 16 auspicious ingredients, including braised abalone, fish maw, whole scallop, and more.
During this time, many bakeries also change up their menu to fit the season. An example of such exclusive treats is that of award-winning chef Dominique Ansel. Packaging the sentiments of a prosperous and joyous new year alongside their delicious treats, the bakery presents the Joyous Spring Ladybird Gift Box Lucky dessert set, a limited Chinese New Year set.
It comes in a ladybug-shaped drawer box, a symbol of good luck in both Western and Eastern beliefs. When the ladybug’s wings are spread out, one is met with specks of gold and lustrous black from the chocolate pieces contained within. The second layer of the box includes Almond Milk Rice Pudding, which has a light yet firm texture, the perfect blend of traditional and modern desserts.
To top it off, the set also includes Mandarin Mochi Buns – made with soft brioche bread stuffed with mochi and mandarin marmalade that will bring both deliciousness and good luck to the recipient.
The Peninsula Boutique also has its own Chinese New Year spin. A gift set that everyone would love to receive, the magnificent box is designed to welcome the Year of the Tiger, inspired by children’s tiger shoes. Inside are ten smaller boxes, packed with delicious surprises that range from chocolates, candies, to Chinese tea, packed in a patterned openwork package that can be reused and hung as decorations.
The new year’s celebration can truly be felt all around, from the traditions that continue to this day, to the numerous treats and gifts shared with friends and family. Despite not being able to celebrate the new year in Hong Kong, there are surely a lot of other ways to celebrate and ring in the year of the tiger from our homes.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board hopes that Filipinos will have the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong soon. Follow news about Hong Kong tourism and catch features on favorite local spots at Discover Hong Kong.