CHINESE NEW YEAR IN SINGAPORE
Chinese New Year is an important Chinese festival largely celebrated at the turn of the long-established lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is one of the world’s most prominent and distinguished festivals that involves the largest annual mass human migration in the world. The New Year festival is centuries old and associated with several myths and customs.
Customarily, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors from different dynasties. Within China, provincial customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Lunar New Year vary widely. According to legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Click the link to find out more about the history, myths and legends of this magnificent festival!
Families and Decorations
Often, the evening preceding Lunar New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. Routinely, every family thoroughly cleans the house, to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. In addition, they also engage the lion dance troupes to come and dispel the bad luck and chase away evil spirits in the household.
Clothing largely features the colour red or bright colours. It is usually worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people naturally wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year just the colour Red is a symbol of good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red colour paper-cuts, couplets and lanterns with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”. Other activities include lighting firecrackers playing fireworks with cousins and receiving/giving money in red paper envelopes.
As Singapore is known for its good food and delicacies, you can never go hungry during the festivities. Here are some Chinese New Year snacks that some of you might find familiar, else, what are you waiting for? Try them!! It ranges from pineapple tarts to bak kwa’s to kuehs to fried prawn rolls and many more!
As it is a time for families to come together, some do away with cooking while some catered food from restaurants. Families commonly order their catered food from Eatz Catering, Orange Clove, Streets, TungLok catering and many more!
Traditional home cooked food includes spring rolls (celebrate the coming of Spring), dumplings (饺子 – jiǎo zi sounds like 交子 – jiāo zi, which means sending away the old and welcoming the new), steamed chicken (reunion and rebirth)/fish (surplus of wealth), noodles (for longevity), Nian Gao (for the wish to be successful/taller in life), vegetable dishes (have various symbols from blessings to wealth and prosperity) and finally, a hot pot.
Yu Sheng (Prosperity Toss), is also one of the top few dishes at the reunion table. This dish symbolizes abundance, prosperity and vigor.
Events and Celebrations
Widely celebrated in Singapore, there are pop-up stalls everywhere that embrace this festival and engage in selling decorations such as lanterns, red packets, firecrackers, fireworks and of course, not forgetting the tasty snacks we love so much.
To commemorate this special occasion, there will be the traditional Lion Dance. According to customary Chinese philosophies, the lion is a character of bravery, constancy, and superiority. The lion’s dance is enacted at the beginning of the Lunar Year to propel bad and evil spirits away from the household. The dance of the lion along with the din of firecrackers, clashing cymbals, and gong and drums that accompany it, is believed to scare the monsters, ghosts, evil spirits away.
As Singapore is a very diverse little island, filled with people from all walks of life. This festival is celebrated in schools, community centres (RCs) and within corporate companies. Companies celebrate by hosting dinners at restaurants where they can conduct their Yu Sheng, while some others purchase snacks and mandarin oranges and donate it to the less fortunate. It is largely and brightly celebrated in the heart of Chinatown, where the roads are lit with lanterns, firecrackers and many more. Many people from all walks of life come together on this special day to bask in the beautiful atmosphere, harmoniously, learning about others’ traditions and cultures.