New Year Blooms

Chinese New Year begins January 29, the day of the first new moon, and ends 15 days later.

Flowers take on a particularly important role, says Michael Miyashiro, owner of Rainforest floral shop at Ward Warehouse and a specialist in Chinese ethnobotany. "Everything in Chinese culture is centered around the harvest and the planting at the beginning of the year," he says. "Flowers make fruit, which make seeds; it’s the whole cycle of life. Having flowers in your possession ensures that everyone will share in their wealth." But, he notes, there are particular flowers and ways of arranging the blooms and other greenery that are significant. Here, an arrangement by Miyashiro, with notes on the types of blossoms and their meanings.

photo: Olivier Koning

Perfect Party Picks

Invited to a Chinese New Year party? Take a pass on that bottle of wine—etiquette dictates that you bring a bag of oranges or tangerines, which are symbols of abundant happiness. Tangerines with their leaves still on the stem guarantee that your relationship with the host or hostess will remain healthy. For more on Chinese New Year, see special section below.

1 It’s customary to write a note on a piece of paper expressing such sentiments as a thousand times returned and double happiness, which translates to good family life and wealth.

2 The lotus symbolizes long life. The imbedded seeds are used in soups and different foods. "If you eat the seed," says Miyashiro, "it’s said you’ll live 1,000 years."

3 There is a growing popularity of all things green—green roses (a new breed) sunflowers and lotus pods. Traditionally, red, which represents good luck, has dominated arrangements, but this is considered "old-school Chinese," says Miyashiro. "For new-school Chinese, the color for New Year is green. Green represents jade, wealth."

4 Placing rice stalks in the arrangement is akin to throwing a penny into a well and making a wish—you’re putting forth your hope for a bountiful rice harvest.


The Year of the Dog
2006 is the Year of the Dog. Woof. So what does it mean to be born in the year of the dog? According to Chinese astrology, you’re loyal and faithful, not unlike man’s best friend, but you can be stubborn, narrow-minded and even dogmatic (excuse the pun). Dogs tend to be moody, harboring irrational fears and anxieties that can escalate into hurt feelings and grumpiness. You don’t tend to trust immediately, but take time to warm up to people. But this trait is one of the reasons dogs make good business people; you can sniff out (sorry, another bad pun) people’s true intentions. It’s important that dogs be physically active. When it comes to love, your high expectations and guarded nature make it difficult for you to find the right match.

Being Narcissistic Never Looked so Good
Local architect Gilman Hu, aka Mr. Narcissus, will once again lead a series of workshops devoted to the practice of growing narcissus for Chinese New Year floral displays. The classes, focused on the crab claw method of narcissus culture, will teach students-both novices and advanced students are welcome-the anatomy of narcissus bulbs as well the cutting methods used to achieve those beautiful, sculptural curlicues.

Classes will be held on Saturdays between January 7 and February 4 at the Academy Art Center on Victoria Street. The morning sessions are from 8:30 to 11 a.m.; the afternoon workshops from 1 to 3:30 p.m. The sessions cost $35 for new students and $25 for returning. For more information, call 532-8701 or visit