Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hua Zhao Jie(花朝节) - Flower Fairy Birthday

Chinese New Year is coming very soon, next Monday the 26th to be exact. It's the most significant holiday of East Asia, China, Korea, South east Asia and others. Luna calendar is rather precise base on the aliment of the sun, moon, other planets and stars. As the world turns, the climate changes and its direct impact to cultivation has been recorded for millenniums. Luna calender predicts climate changes day by day. When is time to sow seeds, when is time the birds come home from winter, when is time flowers bloom, etc.

In southern California, weather is evenly warm through out the year. Flowers can be seen all year round. One of the most important elements as part of the new year festival is flowers. Fresh flowers are must have as part of the decor, potted plants or fresh cut flowers are equality popular. Canton is cooler than LA, however being in the subtropical climate, it's one of the earliest spring arrival spot in China. In my childhood days, new year's eve dinner was an elaborate 9 course meal with family members, it's the one meal no one should miss of the year, followed by an evening outing to "flower street" well into the night. Public parks in China is quite different from American parks. Parks in China are man made architectures blended into nature with water features of large ponds and streams, hills, rocks, landscaping, bridges, pagoda and pavilions of traditional Chinese styles. During Chinese New Year, parks are showcases of million flowers attracting visitors from city and country side. My parents took us to the park each year, perhaps this is the early feed of my flower obsession.

One of the designated date in the Luna calendar is Feb 2nd (some time in March of the western calendar which we use today) as the birthday of flower fairy. This is the day we welcome the flower fairy. The arrival of the fairy represents blooming of many flowers, it also represents the waking up of plants from winter rest. An other name for this day is Hundred Flowers Birthday, it's blooming season for many plants, hence they all share the same birthday. To welcome the fairy, ladies and young girls cut up red papers in lantern shape to hang on tree branches or wear as hair pieces. The one and only Queen in China Wu Ze Tian ordered female servants to pick hundred flowers, mixed with grain flour then steamed into cakes for her court ministers.

Hua wu bai ri hong - flowers red no longer than a hundred days, meaning nothing will last forever. Although this tradition has a long history since Tang dynasty, its fate is not far from blooming flowers, Hua Zhao Jie is unheard of by many today. Its presence declined then vanished after Qing Dynasty, war fair is the #1 murderer of tradition and culture, ignorance of rulers are to be blamed as well.

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