Have you celebrated Chinese New Year? This has become one of our favourite times of the year here in Singapore. It is the perfect opportunity to take some days off, spend time with family, and wish each other luck and success. It is also a time to spring clean, pay off debts, express gratitude, and celebrate. What a refreshing and happy way to start the year! We love it.
Each year in the Chinese calender is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals (and four elements). This year is the ‘Water Snake’. The dates are based on the lunar calender, which means the dates shift slightly each year. This year, was Feb 10th, and next year will be Jan 31st (beginning the year of the ”Wood Horse’). At this time, it is always fun to read your horoscope for the new year. We are a Dog and an Ox, and are hoping it will be a good one!
There are many more interesting traditions we like:
Reunion Dinner – On new year’s eve, the family gathers to celebrate over a big meal.
Flowers – This is a spring celebration, so lots of floral decorations cover the city.
Lion Dance performances! – We love this. (We totally want to train to do this!)
Red Packets – Giving of red packets containing cash (known as ang pow), a blessing from the older to the younger generations of the family.
Mandarin Oranges – Symbols of abundance and good fortune.
Pineapple Tarts – lots of little stalls pop up at this time of year, selling sweets and biscuits to be given as gifts. There are many types, but pineapple tarts are our favourites!
Fireworks and Festivals – Singapore always puts on a good show!
There are many myths and legends associated with Chinese new year. We love hearing about these! We like the story of the Nian. The Nian is a ferocious mythical animal that came to attack the villages each year when there was nothing to eat in the mountains (near the end of winter). They people discovered it was afraid of the colour red, as well as fire and noise. So they put up red lanterns and decorations and set off firecrackers. This kept the village safe.
There is so much more to tell (and learn about), and it all fascinates us! (…maybe because modern Australia is sparse when it comes to history, tradition and myth.) As kids we didn’t grow up with such rich traditions behind us, and we feel lucky to experience Chinese New Year here in Singapore. The importance placed on family, well wishing, and happiness is very refreshing, and the colour and excitement around the city is fantastic. We recommend it to everyone!
This year in Singapore we went to see the River Hongbao festival, the Sentosa Flowers, the Chinatown celebrations, and the Chingay Parade! That’s a lot of fun stuff packed into a couple of weeks! You can see some of our pics below…
We wish you all a happy, lucky, and prosperous year of the snake!