Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Also known as the Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, it’s one of the most widely celebrated events in Singapore. Customarily, Chinese families all over Singapore begin thoroughly cleaning their homes a month before to “sweep away” any ill-fortune, making way for the arrival of good luck. The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the lunar calendar and ends on the 15th day. Symbolically, new clothes are worn to signify the new year. It’s also the tradition for every family to visit their families and friends – a practice simply known as “new-year visits”. Now the highlight of these visits for children and younger members of the family comes in the little red packets or what we call hong baos filled with money. These hong baos are also given to lion dance troupes for bringing the festivity and cheer to homes and offices.
According to the lunar calender, 2014 is the year of the Horse and 2015 will be the year of the Sheep. See the Chinese zodiac and has 12 different animals for each of the 12 lunar years in the cycle including the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. But, it doesn’t matter when you were born, come Chinese New Year, everyone is a year older. It’s like a national birthday. And it’s common for Chinese families all over the world to have a reunion dinner the night before Chinese New Year festivities begin. All children will gather at their parent’s house and have an elaborate feast with all kinds of delicacies. Fish, is also on the menu but it’s intentionally left unfinished and stored overnight because the Chinese believe that by doing so, there’ll be an overflow of abundance in the coming new year. Interestingly, there’s also a dish made from a type of black hair-like algae called “fat choy” which sounds like prosperity in Mandarin. And that’s the order of the day!
In ancient times, people believed that a mythical beast called the Nian was terrorizing people and preying on kids. And the only way to ward off the beast was to make loud noises using firecrackers and by wearing red clothes. And that’s how Red became the predominant and auspicious colour of the Chinese New Year. It symbolises fortune, good luck and joy. Other then the red packets or hong baos, it’s the most commonly worn colour throughout the Chinese New Year period. White or black clothing are often avoided as they represent the traditional colours of mourning. So if you’re visiting your Chinese friends during this festive season remember to wear something that’s bright red and bring a few pairs of Mandarin oranges to exchange with the host.
Dos and Don’t
Some Chinese believe you shouldn’t be washing your hair on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year because you would be washing away your good luck for the new year. Also, if you wanna stay debt-free in the new year, the Chinese believe that all outstanding bills and monies owed to friends and family members should be squared off before the stroke of midnight. Another thing to remember is to avoid sweeping or cleaning your home on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year as it symbolises the sweeping away of all your wealth and good fortune. And finally, the Chinese believe that it’s important to keep from crying, wailing, and getting upset on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year because will result in unhappiness for the rest of the year.