I kind of love this time of year and I suppose you can only experience it in countries which like to celebrate (or at least decorate for) Christmas and then go whole-hog (or snake, as it will be this year) for Chinese New Year. There is this special way that the Shanghainese turn their Christmas decorations into Spring Festival trappings and in a matter of days, Santa is gone and within the same color scheme we see lucky money, plum blossoms and red lanterns. There's a little bit of magic at work.
My kids were prostrate with grief as the Christmas tree came down last week and the decorations got put in the store-room for another year. So I decided this year, we'd follow Shanghai's traditions and simply replace the Christmas tree with a flowering azalea or lucky bamboo.
I went up to my favorite flower market and perused the offerings this morning and sure enough, what used to be Christmas trees and poinsettia are now kumquats and orchids adorned with red and gold bows. I got a few things for the house and while our new little flowering plum takes up a tiny space compared with our now-stored Christmas tree, it's nice to keep up with the festive season. I replaced my son's mini-tree with some lucky bamboo and now everyone seems to be happy.
Photos: just a few of the arrangements you'll find these days in a Chinese flower market. © Sara Naumann, licensed to About.com.