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Festive HK prepares for lunar holiday
7/2/2005 8:11

Although Hong Kong is an international city with Western holidays, the lunar New Year is still the most important festival for its citizens.
The city feels festive walking around Central or Tsim Sha Tsui, as traditional red lanterns hang seemingly everywhere - at shopping malls, office towers, parks and apartment complexes.
As a local tradition, peach blossom trees are "planted" at Times Square in Causeway Bay and the International Financial Center in Central, as well as many shopping centers as well.
Young people, especially women, are spotted holding bundles of peach blossom branches that they will take home to decorate their homes.
Peach blossom is believed to bring good luck, especially for single individuals looking for a lover.
Flowers and mini-orange trees - also for good luck - are another major decoration for households during the holiday.
Although red ants have been discovered in the city last month, flower markets in Mong Kok and Victoria Park have not been affected too much.
Relevant departments have been strengthening the quarantine work and anti-insect procedures for local and imported flowers.
Most flowers are more expensive this year, in part due to smaller supply caused by cold weather.
Of course, being with family is the main theme of the Spring Festival. In Hong Kong, it is a tradition for families to have elaborate Cantonese feasts at cavernous restaurants.
According to the catering sector, orders for festival dinners are up 10-20 percent from last year, matching the peak recorded in 1997.
The Hong Kong Catering Industry Association estimates turnover during the lunar New Year will be 5 percent higher than last year, reaching about 6 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$769 million).
Many young couples are rushing to register their marriage before the Spring Festival. Registration quotas before Wednesday, the first day of the new lunar year, are fully booked.
About 32,000 couples got married in the first 10 months of 2004, a record high for the same period in the past five years.
The latest ACNielsen Hong Kong Consumer Confidence Index is at 99, the highest level in 10 years.
To add an even more festive atmosphere to the city, the Hong Kong Tourism Board has arranged the 2005 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year's Night Parade on February 9.
A total of 12 floats along with 16 international and 13 local performing groups will participate in the event.
The Symphony of Lights show will be bigger and better than ever with rooftop pyrotechnics from February 11 to 15.
Sponsored by the Tourism Board, the pyrotechnic displays will provide some glamor.
The Bank of China Tower, Hopewell Center and Sun Hung Kai Center, will showcase newly improved lighting effects to make the show even more spectacular.
The traditional fireworks extravaganza in Victoria Harbor has also been arranged for February 10.