10 Singaporean Chinese New Year Facts
By Verena Chia
January 20, 2017
Happy Chinese New Year 2017! This year, we celebrate the Year of the Rooster and with Singapore being an ethnically diverse population; we are accustomed to the different cultures and practices of the different races. However if you’re new to the Chinese custom and would like to know more about how we celebrate Chinese New Year in Singapore, let's help get you started!
Disclaimer: Most facts listed are based on the general Singaporean Chinese CNY traditions and practices. As a multiracial nation, different families may practice different religions and traditions which are not stated here.
1. When is Chinese New Year 2017?
Singaporeans will celebrate CNY on 28 and 29 January 2017 (Saturday & Sunday).
As Chinese New Year is indicated on the traditional Chinese Lunar Year, it falls on different days of the Gregorian Calendar. Since 29 January is a Sunday, the following Monday is a Singapore public holiday!
With the long weekend ahead of you and looking to spend some quality time with the family, why not check out SAFRA members' privileges at Sentosa?
2. 2017 is the Year of the Rooster!
The Chinese Lunar Year is calculated based on a 12-year cycle with 12 Chinese zodiac signs. Therefore, if you are 12, 24, 36 or any other multiples of 12, congratulations, this year is your year! Why not decorate your office desk with your zodiac sign to add to the festive mood?
However, according to some beliefs, the same zodiac sign will clash when placed together, so, you may not experience much luck when it is your year. To counteract this, some people celebrating their year will make a special effort to go down to one of the many temples to pray for luck or get feng shui tips.
3. Money, Money, Money!
You’ve to prepare your hongbaos before CNY! Hongbao (mandarin) or ang pow (hokkien) is a traditional gift of money in a red packet, given as a token of good wishes during auspicious occasions such as Chinese New Year.
Traditionally, only those who are married need to give out hongbaos, so if you’re still single, you may be eligible to receive some moolah from your relatives!
4. Some families have dedicated temples to go to.
Families who go to a specific temple to pray during the Chinese New Year Festival may meet up with other family members who do not share the same religion for their yearly traditional CNY gathering.
5. Chinese New Year ban during mourning period
Most of the time, CNY is a happy festival for all. However, some families who experience the passing of a member during the past year may not celebrate CNY during the subsequent year. This is to mourn the deceased and commemorate their lives. That means no red packets, no colorful decorations and no festive foods or snacks.
6. New underwear, new clothes
Red is a traditionally an auspicious colour for the Chinese. It is also considered a symbol of luck, life and happiness, therefore, many Singaporean Chinese will wear red during house visits. Furthermore, wearing new clothes, especially if they come in the traditional bright red, represents a brand new start for the New Year.
7. Mahjong and card games for all!
When it comes to catching up with relatives, nothing says Chinese New Year activities more than a 24-hour game of Mahjong. This game is usually played by the older generation of the family, while the younger ones will play a game of cards.
Popular dui lians/couplets found at most Chinese New Year festivals and Chinese homes.
8. Chinese New Year Greetings and dui lian
During Chinese New Year and the days leading up to it, it is customary to greet people with prosperous words. It could be a family member, friend or even a stranger on the street, a simple greeting of新年快乐, 万事如意 (Xin Nian Kuai Le, Wan Shi Ru Yi) which means “Happy new year, may everything go well for you”, would suffice.
The dui lian, also known as Chinese couplet, are prosperous words and poetry written on traditional Chinese red wax paper. It is usually pasted on the sides of the main gate or around the house for prosperity and good fortune.
9. No cleaning allowed
Cleaning – sweeping or throwing things away is not allowed on the first day of the New Year as it symbolises luck and fortune being swept/thrown out of the house. Therefore, families will start their Lunar Spring Cleaning in the days leading up to Chinese New Year. This is the time to declutter and throw away things you don’t want or do some retail therapy at the nearest mall with your SAFRA card!
Some families will also put up festive and traditional Chinese New Year decorations such as red packets, banners or lanterns around the house. If you’re looking for CNY decoration ideas, check out our fun and easy DIY CNY zodiac animals!
10. Chinese New Year Food : Making festive snacks and steamboat.
Chinese New Year Celebration means tons of delectable snacks, delicious roasted meats, crispy sweet love letters and endless Yu Sheng...
But what we love most is the steamboat during the Reunion Dinner on Chinese New Year’s eve. Sitting around in a circle enjoying a smoking pot of the best seafood, fish cakes and abalones with your loved ones is the most enjoyable part of the tradition. Chinese New Year is just never the same without it.
And with that, 新年快乐 (Xin Nian Kuai Le) which means Happy Chinese New Year in mandarin!
Check out what Chinese New Year activities we have planned for you at our SAFRA clubs!