Chinese New Year is one of the two most important holidays in China: it is one of the two holidays (the other being October 1 and National Week) in which workers are granted a week-long holiday. It sparks the world's largest migration. But in Special Administrative Region Hong Kong, the situation is altogether less frenetic.
2013 is the year of the snake in the 12-year and 12-animal Chinese zodiac.
But it's very much a buzz kill after 2012's year of the dragon. Dragon years (2012, 2000, 1988) are considered auspicious. Snake years (2013, 2001, 1989) are less so. Instead, they're inconsistent. Recent snake years have witnessed tragedies such as 9/11, the fall of the USSR, the Pearl Harbour attack and the stock market crash of 1929.
Retailers are already disappointed after slow Snake merchandise sales. It's hard to market snakes as cute creatures — even with hilariously long eyelashes — and after a bumper dragon year it's hard to inspire excitement for a snake year. Instead, malls and government entities are altogether avoiding snakes, focusing on cuter animals like pandas.
Here are a few photos from the famous Victoria Park Chinese New Year market:
App icons as pillows (merchandise has very little to do with Chinese New Year).
Adidas was one of the few retailers particularly zealous in its use of the snake. Also its fake jade beads on its shoes are a nice touch.
A shop display in Causeway Bay's World Trade Centre: because ducks dressed as snakes are cuter than snakes.
Cherry blossoms in Times Square's atrium.
British retailer Jack Wills also interpreted the snake: its body is made of red lanterns.
Abstract snakes hanging from the ceiling in luxury mall Landmark.
Frolicking pandas in the International Financial Centre.
A statue of the God of Fortune in front of the Hong Kong Botanical Gardens' fountain.
Decorations in front of a stair garden at Hong Kong Park.
A display of a Chinese dragon and some snakes at Hong Kong Park.
And to end with: a bus with a cute cartoon snake ad.