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Azzi Joachim

With its humid subtropical climate and mild winters, Guangzhou is a paradise for trees and other plants, as reflected by the beauty of its flowers and the quality of its fruits.

Despite having heard about Guangzhou and its flower fairs, which are held annually during Spring Festival, I didn't expect what I wound up witnessing.

Compared with walking along the streets of Guangzhou throughout the rest of the year, strolling through the city during Spring Festival was like entering a different and wonderful world. Diverse varieties of flowers, trees and other plants could be found everywhere. A rainbow of color gleamed brightly every day from dawn to dusk.

I was immediately taken by the number of stands selling such a wide variety of magnificent trees and flowers, all in full bloom. In my entire life, it was the first time I had seen so many different plants in the same town. Hundreds of flowers and little trees filled the city. Everyone was buying them. Anyone looking for something unique, outstanding, or whimsical, in a gay and friendly atmosphere, will find it here in Guangzhou.
Spring Festival regularly displays the most popular and beautiful Asian flowers, offering a unique opportunity for nature lovers who explore the streets and fairs of Guangzhou each spring. In the hustle and bustle of daily urban life, this festival reminds us of the power and glory of nature.

The public enthusiasm for flowers at this exceptional festival in Guangzhou makes us understand why flowers have been popular. At every turn throughout the festival days, we could witness this passion for flowers building up. I was immersed in an ocean of colors and fragrances. I could not even fully recognize my neighborhood anymore, with such a profusion of flowers being sold everywhere. Each flower looked to be perfect, none were damaged or withered. It was as if each one was individually handcrafted for its future owner.

But all this enthusiasm was amplified even more at the flower fairs, which took place in different districts around Guangzhou. My first visit to one of them, on the eve of Spring Festival of 2012, was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience.

Flower fair

I spent a stunning afternoon at the Tianhe Flower Fair, following a delicious Chinese lunch. The fair was packed with people, all of them holding flowers, plants and, of course, snacks.

I could find anything I wanted in this wild display of fantastic colors and patterns and sizes. Kids were playing and running everywhere, parents and friends were laughing together, and the elderly were wandering at a relaxing pace. Everyone was full of joy; one could feel it in the atmosphere. It is well known that the presence of flowers triggers happy emotions and affects social behavior in a positive manner in China. This is what Guangzhou is all about… a flower city, a living city, a happy city.

It is customary for most families to visit the fairs during New Year's Eve. Unlike in other countries, traditions are very well anchored in the Chinese culture, and buying flowers and plants is considered a must for Chinese families. In my country, France, no such events take place. For Christmas, for instance, most of the people buy a plastic Christmas tree and use it year after year. Some people still buy mistletoe (for good luck and protection), but this tradition is ebbing year by year.

Here in Guangzhou, however, nobody could expect to go back home empty-handed and spend the following weeks in an "empty home" – lacking flowers. Some flowers are more popular than others due to their shape, beauty and power. Tangerine, peach blossom, lucky bamboo and bitter orange are the most cherished. Indeed, they do much more than just look pretty; they also symbolize happiness, luck, longevity, wealth and protection for the coming year.

Flower teas have been enjoyed by Chinese people for centuries, and each flower offers its own health benefits. Most flowers are sold for infusion as tea: rose, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lavender… all kinds of flowers can be found in supermarkets. In Guangzhou, flower power wields its allure both inside and outside the body, in one's drink, food and life.

The city of Guangzhou can be considered to be a unique flower itself, colorful and distinctive, growing day after day, possessing it its own culture, its own traditions and its own foods. But this is another story for another day …

Huacheng Square at night

(By Azzi Joachim)

Editor:Lynus Tan
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