Celebrating The Year of Tiger with Good Health and Prosperity
Chinese New Year marks the start of the lunar new year, which occurs sometime between January 21st and February 20th. Also known as the spring Festival, it is considered as one of China’s most important celebrations, with each year being named after one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. This year is the year of the Tiger.
Chinese New Year Greetings
In Chinese, the common greeting at New Year is “Xin Nian Kuai Le”, which means “Happy New Year”. Those in Hong Kong and other Cantonese -speaking parts of the world tend to go with “Gong Hei Fat Choy” which translates roughly to “congratulations on our good fortune”.
Rituals and Customs to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Traditions vary from country to country. Its an important time to catch up with family and friends. It’s usually the time for a nice family reunion dinner which might also include ancestral worship ritual. It is easy to see when the Lunar New Year is fast approaching. Festival bright red colour decorations adorn every street, storefront and home. Being associated with good fortune, red decorations are hung to ward off Nian- a lion-like monster that is afraid of the colour red, according to Chinese mythology. Fresh floral arrangements and fruit trees are also bought to brighten many homes and streets.
The colour red also brings wealth in the form of red lai see packets gifted to children and unmarried adults during the holidays. These red packets are cash gifts that can range from few dollars to quite hefty amounts, depending on the relationship to the recipient. Usually an even number is consider lucky but best to avoid four as phonetically it means death and not lucky in Chinese culture. Employers are also expected to gift red packages to employees as a sign of gratitude.
In the days leading up to Chinese New Year, windows are scrubbed, floors swept and furniture dusted to wash away the bad luck of the past year and in preparation of a new start. But do make sure you finish cleaning by midnight before the New Year day. Cleaning on the first day of the new year is forbidden in case you swept away any of the new good fortune.
Chinese New Year Food
A celebration is never complete without a scrumptious feast. It is part of the Chinese New Year tradition to have a reunion dinner with family or friends on New Year’s Eve (January 31st). Symbolic foods and must have traditional snacks are served by many restaurants and families. When I lived in Hong Kong, locals always have Pen Cai as one of the most important local Chinese New Year tradition. Pen Cai is basically many types of delicacies (abalones, shrimps, oysters, roast meats, napa cabbage ... just to name a few) all served with a braised sauce in a claypot. It represents prosperity and wealth. Each item has symbols related to good fortune.
In Singapore YuSheng seems to be served at every table in the restaurants . Lo Hei or Lou Hei Yu Sheng literally means ‘tossing the raw fish’. Locals believe by shouting auspicious phrases and tossing Yu Sheng will help them usher into the new year with better prospects and fortune. The dish includes Sashimi fish slices, Pomelo, carrot, green and white radish... each item has different symbolic meanings. The most important is the Sashimi slices (Sheng Yu), which symbolises abundance and surplus throughout the year. Everyone would toss the dish as high as possible and shout Huat Ah (means auspicious). The higher you toss the more the wealth you get and the higher the chance of all your wishes coming true.
Things to do in Singapore to with kids during Chinese New Year
Visit Chinatown The Chinese New Year Bazaar will not be held in Chinatown this year but there are still plenty of reason to visit Chinatown. No doubt Chinatown will be decorated in dazzling light up during the festive period. you can also see gigantic lanterns in the shape of this year’s zodiac animal, the tiger. Trengganu Street and Pagoda Street are already full of shoppers trying to stock up on New Year decorations and treats.
There will be a Wishing Tree (7 Jan to 15 Feb) at the atrium of Chinatown Point. You and your children can write down your wishes for the Year of the Tiger and hang the on the tree. Might be fun for those that missed out on sending the letter to Santa.
Have Dim Sum Dim Sum is probably of of my kids’ favourite Chinese foods. Its fun to enjoy with the entire family the endless repertoire of yummy dumplings and littles bites served in the bamboo baskets. Moms will love the noisy atmosphere at the restaurants. Your screaming kids will fit right in. There are so many dims restaurants in Singapore. My favourite local finds are:
Red Star Restaurant Red Star is one of Singapore’s best know dim sum restaurant that offered trolley service. Its old school deco and traditional Dim Sum dishes makes you travel back in time to Hong Kong in the 1980’s. It opens at 8am and will not take reservation. So make sure you get there early to avoid long wait. Yum Cha Chinatown Restaurant The restaurant is on Trengganu street in the heart of Chinatown. it offers casual dims and a delicious dim sum high tea buffet.
Visit an attraction
Dahlia Dreams at Gardens by the Bay (14 Jan to 20 Feb) The popular Chinese New Year floral display Dahlia Dreams continues this year at Garden by the Bay. In celebration of the Year of Tiger, the Flower Dome will be decked outwit beautiful dahlias, azaleas, chrysanthemum and narcissus blooms. Its a fun day to take the kids there and afterward to enjoy some delicious burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack near the entrance of the dome.
Spring in the Sea at S.E.A Aquarium (15 Jan to 15 Feb) In Chinese, the pronunciation for “fish” is synonymous with that of “abundance”. It is a must to eat fish during the New Year so why not bring in the New Year and enjoy looking at some lovely fishes at the aquarium.
Watch Chingay parade online Chingay 2022 Watch Party (12 Feb 8pm) Sadly this year it will be a live webcast instead of a live event. But kids might still enjoying staying up past their bedtime curfews
Contributed by committee members, Sabrina Lok