The Chinese New Year Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees tradition

Chinese New Year is one of the most significant and important festivals in the Chinese calendar. Celebrations traditionally run from the last day of the last month (known as Chinese New Year’s Eve) to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month.

Within China, traditions and customs vary widely depending on region. Typically, most people begin festivities on the Chinese New Year’s Eve with a family-oriented dinner, often bringing together family members who work away from home for a reunion. It is also customary for families to thoroughly clean the house, sweeping away ill-fortune and bad luck to make way for incoming good luck.

The Chinese New Year tradition of the wishing tree arguably began hundreds of years ago in Lam Tsuen, Hong Kong. During Chinese New Year, villagers would travel for miles to visit the sacred Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees, two ancient banyan trees situated near the Tin Hau Temple in Fong Ma Po village, one of the 23 traditional Chinese villages that make up Lam Tsuen.

It is believed that the wishing custom originated from fishermen who would throw paper josses made from bamboo into every Tai Pak Kung (earth god) tree on their way into the New Territories of Hong Kong to bring them good luck and protection.

Historically, people would burn joss sticks before writing their wishes down, tying it to a small orange or kumquat, and then throwing the wish up to hang in the branches of the trees. It was believed that if the wish successfully hung onto one of the branches, the person’s wish would come true. The higher the branch the wish landed on, the more likely it would be for the person’s hopes to be fulfilled.

Although people are now discouraged from throwing their wishes up into the trees, tourists and locals still make the journey to the small village every year to tie their wishes onto wooden support beams, imitation trees or racks that surround the original wishing trees.

Hakkasan will be honouring the wishing tree tradition by offering all guests around the world who dine during this festive time the opportunity to write their wishes on red ribbon and hang them on the latticed woodwork. These wishes will be shared on our Hakkasan Instagram page and website.

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