The Flower Drum

Walking down Watford’s Market Street, you could have easily missed the shopfront, with its drab brown and sepia facia and dark windows, however, my razor sharp “Everything-Chinese” radar sensed it straight away. I was curious about the Flower Drum because of its low profile exterior, which seems so muted when compared to many the gaudy appearance and even gaudier names of places such as the “Jade Palace” or “Golden Dragon”, with their red and gold displays, or over-sized neon hanzi. The Flower Drum is a quiet little restaurant with a very pretty name.


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What Does Twelfth Night Have in Common with Chinese New Year?

To the Chinese, Spring Festival is as big, important and family orientated as Christmas. In fact the two have some rather similar traditions on ushering in good luck. During Victorian times Twelfth Night, the end of Christmas on the 6th of January, was still celebrated. Do you know that popular children’s game? Whoever finds the dry bean in the cake gets to be king, whoever finds the dry pea gets to be queen and everyone else has to wait on the king and queen. Provided you don’t choke on them, finding the dry bean or dry pea represents good luck coming your way.


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Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice)

Last night, we celebrated 冬至 (“dong zhi”) or Winter Solstice, which for the Chinese is one of the 24 seasons in the Lunar Calendar. This is longest night of the year for those in the northern hemisphere, after which the night will gradually shorten and the day lengthen. In Chinese philosophy, Dong Zhi is a time when strong forces of the Yin begin to wane and weak forces of the Yang, start to rise . It’s been an important winter festival for more than 2000 years, as a time for ancestral, heaven worship, rest and celebration of the departure of ill luck, diseases and the health and good luck this will bring.


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