Hong Kong Wishing Festival: “The Hope Will Be Real*” (*even if your house won’t actually fill with gold)

wishing placard and orange

I re-visited the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree this week, but unlike the deserted scene back in mid-December, it is now center-stage to the “Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival.” We joined the many, many families visiting during this week’s Chinese New Year holiday.

The purpose of the festival is to make wishes for the new year. My daughter wished for a puppy (she meant toy puppy, right?), but most people wish for health, wealth, happiness, success, or romance.

Most attendees chose to make their wishes via the traditional “tie your wish to an orange and throw it into a tree branch” approach. An artificial tree is constructed for this purpose as the original Wishing Tree is supported by metal struts and off-limits for the time being as it recovers from many previous decades of wishing.

Temporary Wishing Tree

Artificial Wishing Tree

Wishers can buy an artificial orange with red wishing placard. Free-form wishes can be written on the blank side of the placard. The other side (pictured up top) contains a check-list of popular wishes. These standard wishes are quite interesting to read, so I’ve reproduced the English version here (complete with the occasional grammatical error):

I hope to receive a fortune

May my small capital makes a huge profit

May my house be full of gold and silver

May I receive profit from all sides

May I thrive and prosperous in business

May my basin and bowl full of fortune

May I have distinguished guests coming all year round

May this year usher in wealth and prosperity

May I have abundance of fortune year after year

May I have prosperity in all kinds of business

May I work successfully

May I be promoted to a higher position

May I make great progress in my studies

May I come in first in examinations

May I achieve the highest status possible

May there be perfect harmony between my partner and I

May I have abundant life

May I have a happy family

May I have peace in my whole family

May all my wishes come true

May I be youthful and beautiful

May I have good health

May I be energetic and vital in life

May I have success in dating

May I have my perfect match

May I give birth to a son

May there be peace and prosperity in my country and between all people

May we have world peace

May me country prosper and may the people be at peace

May I travel safely

May I have good luck and a long life

May I always have good luck and a long life

There are many other means of making wishes at the festival, including by floating candle:


The grandest method is by large, ornate lantern:


A lantern wishing for happiness

Some also paid special visits to statues for their Chinese Zodiac year, each of which held a piece of candy in its mouth in hope for a “sweet year.”


Dragon holding a sweet for a “sweet year.”

Do well-wishers see all their dreams come true? The Wishing Festival itself hedges its bets with its motto:

“The Hope Will Be Real”

Colorful bamboo signage at the Wishing Festival

22 responses to “Hong Kong Wishing Festival: “The Hope Will Be Real*” (*even if your house won’t actually fill with gold)

  1. Do you thing the “standard” wishes are in order of popularity? If so, it says a lot about the culture, doesn’t it?

    • She asked me later if the wishes really come true… Sadly for her “the hope will be real” even if the puppy isn’t. I’ll have to take her on lots of visits to friends’ houses that have dogs to make up for it.

  2. Ha, who wouldn’t want their house to be “full of gold and silver”, even though I picture it a tad uncomfortable…
    Those pictures are beautiful, love the wishing tree! Thanks for sharing!
    (And yes, I agree, I am sure that what your daughter meant was a toy puppy…)

  3. Great photos! My favorite is the dragon with the candy in his mouth! (A puppy sounds like fun… toy puppy and YouTube videos in the meantime!) Artificial wishing tree and prepared checklist of popular wishes, how very convenient (and efficient) for throngs of hopeful wishers! Happy Year of the Snake to you! 🙂

    • I was surprised by the checklist of popular wishes as it seems very cookie-cutter. But after watching for awhile, I could see that most people wrote their own personal wishes on the blank side and then also checked the applicable wishes on the other side!

    • We had a lot of fun over CNY. Nice to be in a city that fills up with fairs and festivals for the holiday rather than completely emptying out (as Zhuhai, like Shanghai, does at CNY).

  4. Pingback: Best of the Blogosphere – 18th to 24th February 2013 « China Heritage Watch·

  5. Do they still have to be backwards enough to say ‘may I give birth to a son’?

    If every one of them ticked that box then there would be no more native people there within 50 years. Or at least plenty of gay ones. Maybe that explains that?

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