Flower fair with a history of a hundred years

BY :Lifeofguangzhou

UPDATED :June 16, 2017


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Going to the flower fair is a local custom of Spring Festival in Guangzhou that began at least one hundred years ago.

Ancient Chinese people admired the poetic beauty and nobility of character in flowers. But Guangzhou citizens appreciate the bustling and exciting scenes of colorful and ever-blooming flowers with countless people going to the flower fair.
On the New Year's Eve, people walk through the brightly lighted archway and get surrounded by the dazzling flowers and hilarious songs celebrating the lunar new year. It will attract the attention as well as the envy if you buy one or two bundles of flowers and raise them above your head. Going to the flower fair seems to be a rite to express one's anticipation for the New Year.
Few people go to the flower fair alone, but with the whole family or their friends. For Guangzhou citizens, "going to the flower fair" is a symbol of celebrating the New Year and an occasion of family reunion.

One may be curious about when the flower fair came into being.
The flower fair was first described in the early Han Dynasty in a book called "A record of travels to the South" writen by LuJia . Others trace the origin back to the Southern Song Dynasty or even as late as the later Qing Dynasty. The modern flower fair seems to have evolved from the places selling flowers according to some people . It is not until the early Republic of China, that the open time of the flower fair was fixed from the 28th day of the twelfth lunar month to the New Year's Eve.
The flower fair in Guangzhou has a history of more than one hundred years, according to the most conservative estimate; it survived the war. There is a precious photo showing Guangzhou citizens walking through the flower fair while hostile airplanes hovering overhead. The flower fair can be held at different places of Guangzhou since 1964 as a result of an "extension" of the central flower fair relocated from Jianglan Lu. There are also central, large flower fair in Jiaoyu Lu and Xihu Lu which remain to this day as the continuation of the old tradition.
Every year, each of all 11 administrative division of Guangzhou holds flower fair; each flower fair has its unique features, attracting media coverage. The planning, administration and passenger flow of the flower fair are improving every year. It is estimated that in 2016, Guangzhou's flower fair attracted 12.6 million visitors, which was very close to the size of permanent resident population in Guangzhou.
As time changes, new phenomena appear in the flower fair.
The shed frames were once made of bamboo in the flower fair, but it took a long time to build and had a different specification. Now the shed frames are built with metal frames of a standard specification. In the past, the unsold flowers lost its values once the flower fair were over and might be destroyed on site. Now the flower merchants must sign the terms with the administrative body of the flower fair, which mandate a proper treatment of the unsold flowers. Some volunteers will collect the deserted flowers and reuse the flowers when the flower fair are over.
Guangzhou's flower fair take on a new look in the new era, it carries the same meaning for the local citizens.
As an intangible heritage, the flower fair epitomizes people's best wish for a peaceful life and family reunion; it stands as a counterforce to the modern tides of China.