You know that it’s Chinese New Year again when you look around and see that practically everything is red. Shop decorations, homes, streets, people’s clothes, shoes, hats, hand bags and even pets’ clothing are all adorned in bright crimson.
In Chinese tradition, red is a sign of wealth and good fortune. It’s a colour that also protects you from all harm.
There are many auspicious symbols that signify the Chinese New Year, but in clothing the most eye-catching of them all is the elegant, figure-hugging Cheongsam.
A few years ago, a lady wearing the bright red Cheongsam could immediately be identified as a person of Chinese descent. But today, the fashion has caught on with ladies of all nationalities.
So much so that during the weeks before the Chinese New Year, clothing shops of all shapes and sizes, whether street-side or in the big malls, stocked up on the latest Cheongsam trends.
From the simple plain dresses to the most elaborate gowns, in various styles and lengths all adorned with gold embroidery.
For the people who understand Chinese sartorial symbolism, even the style, cut, length and the way it is worn have a particular meaning. Even with the men’s shirts and jackets known as the ‘Tang’ jacket. Every style and cut has been designed to bring good fortune.
Don’t forget that one must wear new clothes during Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival. In spring what do we do? Out with old and in with the new. Let the misfortunes be bygones and welcome in good luck and fortune. New clothes are auspicious and believe it or not, protect you from evil spirits.
Pattaya Mail reporters roamed the markets in Pattaya and Naklua to observe the trend and to speak to some shopkeepers on Jan 23.
One shop keeper in Naklua said that she was very pleased that this year saw a surge in sales, because people of all nationalities wanted to wear the Chinese dresses. The best customers were of course the Chinese and Thais of Chinese descent.
Even retail shops, restaurants and hotels bought Cheongsams for their staff. School children are also encouraged to wear red Chinese outfits. I guess, because people in Thailand are experiencing very tough social, political and economic times, a bit of good fortune would be most welcome.
We were told that prices for Cheongsams and shirts started from as low as 199 baht.
Decorations and ornaments, mostly in red and gold of course are also an intricate part of Chinese New Year celebrations.
We met up with Miss Weerapa Romsakul, owner of Phothong Sangkaphan, which normally sells Buddhist related offerings and other items that you need when making merit at the temple or at home.
For these particular few days, her shop was transformed into a Chinese shop literally packed from top to bottom with Chinese decorations and symbolic items needed during this auspicious and happy period.
Weerapa said, “Last year I started selling the Chinese decorations which I bought in Bangkok, and to my pleasant surprise, business was really good. So, this year I flew to Guangzhou in China to buy original items. The prices were very reasonable and I am proud to say that my goods are unique and not available in any other shop.”
She went on to say, “The most popular items are the wind chimes which you hang in front of your home. They bring good luck and fortune. They sell for 190-350 baht. The big ones go for 590 baht. The wind chimes placed at the most appropriate spot of your home bring wealth, happiness, good fortune and good luck.”
We asked her about the lanterns. Weerapa explained, “Lanterns are symbols of joy and good fortune. Chinese families usually leave them hanging on the house for the whole year, only to be changed for new ones at the following Lunar New Year.”
Weerapa said that she started selling Chinese ornaments Jan 10 and had a period where she worked through the night for 3 nights in a row. “I hope to sell all my goods and will end my sales on Jan 24. Business is really good. I love the Year of the Rat! I’m already planning my trip to China to buy more decorations in preparation for next year’s celebrations.”
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