A friend (who asked not to be acknowledged) sent me this lovely picture of prunus mume – luxurious display of plum flowers taken from his mom’s place during Chinese New Year.
We were initially confused, if this is cherry blossoms or plum flower. Both have tissue-delicate petals and bloom in the spring season.
Cherry blossoms have come to be popularly associated with the Japanese Sakura festival. To the Japanese, it celebrates the transcience of life, the brevity of its extravagant bloom and its rapid death.
As for the Chinese, they have long celebrated the plum flower. My Taiwanese friends would love to bring up to Yangming Mountain to admire the plum blossoms, waving our way through the horrific Taipei traffic jam, spouting Tang and Song poetry. Plum blossoms represent hope, the harbinger of spring and the departure of winter. Because it blooms amidst the snow, symbolise resilience and the perseverance amidst adversity. Together with the pine, bamboo, are known as the “Three friends of the Cold”, regularly depicted in traditional Chinese scroll paintings.
Teresa Teng’s song on the plum blossom, is perhaps one of the most beloved songs of 1970s and 80s and my friends tell me that they get goose bumps when they hear this song of the plum blossom, as they remember Taiwan’s economic struggle during those times. I too remember that song with the same goose bumps, when I would rush home from primary school to watch the afternoon Taiwanese love matinee starring Lin Chin-hsia, Lin Feng-jiao etc before my mom banned me from watching.