Just as important, she said, was the flower market's role as a cultural bridge.
"We're second-generation. We maintain these traditions, but a lot of it was oral traditions," she said, "that get lost a little bit."
When the traditions were brought to the United States, she said, some of them changed.
Saturday's flower market consisted of a small cluster of tents at 10th Street Plaza, at North 10th and Vine Streets. The flow of visitors was slow but steady.
The event might be only a faint echo of the hustle and bustle of the large outdoor markets that spring up across Asia, but the important thing, Lu said, was to keep the traditions alive. Even if the rituals aren't fully understood.
"I think it's part of tradition . . . a little more Americanized," Lu said. "I still see the importance of it. Sometimes, we don't know the full meaning of it, but we still recognize them."
Ngoc Tang took time out from selling flowers to explain the event - or at least tried to. For example, asked why pussy willow represented longevity, the 28-year-old paused before conceding she didn't know. Most of the customers are older adults, she said, characterizing herself as being in a "middle bracket," seeking to continue the traditions while growing up in the United States.
"The older generations have more respect for the culture and religion," said Tang, who was volunteering with the Philadelphia Suns community organization. "I bought flowers for my mom yesterday because I know she cares a lot about the traditions."
She described some of the rituals her mother was making sure to follow Saturday: cooking specific foods, burning paper money, and cleaning the house "top to bottom."
Some of the observances needed to be done by midnight: "You can't have any laundry out," Tang said, and "you have to burn every single piece" of the fake paper money.
But there was one tradition that needed to wait.
As soon as midnight struck, and the Year of the Snake began, Tang said, her mother would make sure the first person to enter the house had been born in an auspicious year.
"The luckiest person has to walk in first," Tang said, before laughing. "She'll tell me to my face, 'You can't come in first, because you're not good luck this year!' "
Contact Jonathan Lai at 856-779-3220, email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @elaijuh.