As the 2017 Lunar New Year is fast approaching, with 28, 29 and 30 January declared public holidays, we’ve prepared a line-up of activity ideas to help you usher in the Year of the Rooster right here in Singapore, plus some tips should you choose to travel during the period.
Importantly, Chinese New Year (CNY) is family time too, so check out the list to find out how you can enjoy a meaningful time with your loved ones.
1. Food Galore
Essentially, CNY does not arrive until a fortnight later, but you can begin to prepare for the feasts now. As most Chinese celebrations involve abundant amounts of food, the most important celebration on the Chinese calendar is no exception.
Head down to Takashimaya Square B2 now and select excellent quality seafood and delicious pastries as well as snacks. Check out their gifts with purchase and cooking demonstrations that are sure to delight the whole family. And lo and behold, lohei, the quintessential Singaporean (and possibly Malaysian) concoction that lets you toss a selection of vegetables, sweet condiments and raw fish together is available here too. So, if you hope for some auspicious blessings, bring a pack home, toss your way up with the family and loudly proclaim Chinese idioms for promotions, health, providence, provision and more.
CNY in Singapore essentially excludes no one. Among colleagues and friends, you will find our fellow citizens baking pineapple tarts, peanut cookies, love letter rolls and cornflake cookies for sampling and purchase. Some elderly get into the act too, so this really is a time to shower blessings on the folks.
What is CNY without a visit to Chinatown? The markets are up, offering locals and tourists alike goodies and accessories to dress up the home, including couplets written out in red paper and calligraphy, CNY plants, bak kwa, Chinese sausages and more.
Usher in this Year of the Rooster with the Chinatown Countdown which is happening on 27 January 2017. In addition to performances by celebrities or wushu (martial arts) performances, there will be a lighting of firecrackers after which the night will come alive with fireworks.
3. River Hongbao
A favourite for the whole family that will be taking place from 26 January to 4 February 2017, take a walk down River Hongbao surrounding the Floating Platform @ Marina Bay, where lion dances, yummy treats and one-of-a-kind hand-crafted lanterns designed by artisans from China are on display for the whole family.
4. Dress Up
CNY is also referred to as the Spring Festival in China, because it does indeed hail the arrival of spring. This means that winter clothes can be put aside to make way for attire with vibrant colours, and one can look forward to family gatherings with happy chatter, lots of food and the exchange of angpows (red packets filled with cash).
Red is the most popular and auspicious colour, although it’s not unusual to see pastel and other bright colours in Western wear or cheongsams. Do avoid black ensembles though, as the colour is associated with bad luck.
5. Travelling Time
If you choose to travel during the festive season, regional countries make a great choice. However, you may want to do some research and avoid places that close almost entirely during CNY. This includes Hong Kong and some parts of Malaysia, where you literally see shutters everywhere; the exception is if you are celebrating with friends or family who reside in these countries.
And yes, there is a ‘thought-provoking’ question on most people’s minds, and that is “Do we still need to give out angpows during CNY if we’re away?” Well, since you are physically not in the country, it proves acceptable to not give them out. However, as the saying goes ‘It’s more blessed to give than to receive’, you might want to prepare some and hand them to a family member to give out to your parents or a close friend. They will be comforted that you’ve thought of them, and with this, you can truly say ‘Happy New Year!’