Lunar New Year in Singapore: What It Is and How It's Celebrated
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and a major celebratory event in other East Asian countries, including Singapore. The celebrations traditionally last about two weeks in total, from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the lunar year.
The date of Chinese New Year always varies year to year, For 2022, Chinese New Year falls on February 1st and celebrations will continue for 15 days till February 15th.
The Origin and History of Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year has a history of over 3,000 years and is associated with several legends. One of the most popular legends suggest that Chinese New Year stemmed from a battle against Nian, a mythical monster that shows up every Chinese New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock. To scare away the monster, the people displayed fireworks, gave small red envelopes (angbaos) and wore red clothes. These traditions have been continued until today and it also serves as a time to gain good fortune.
This festival is also celebrated to mark the start of a New Year in the Chinese Lunar calendar. It is meant for farmers and workers to have a good rest from a year-long of hard work, so they can resume work refreshed and well-rested after the long break.
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Singapore
Decoration plays a big part in the festival and people spend lots of time to adorn their houses with red festive decorations such as paper-cuts, lanterns and couplets. Shopping malls and other public places are also decorated with showpiece, banners and orange trees to boost the festive atmosphere.
In Singapore, the whole heritage district of Chinatown is transformed into a bustling festive area with vendors selling New Year decorations and goodies. Unfortunately, the ongoing pandemic has resulted in the festive bazaar being cancelled again this year.
One of the most important rituals of Chinese New Year in Singapore is the Reunion Dinner, which takes place on the evening of Chinese New Year Eve. It is considered the most important dinner for the entire year and Chinese families come together for a sumptuous dinner. Nowadays, many Singaporean families opt to enjoy their Reunion Dinners at restaurants instead of having them at home traditionally.
On Chinese New Year's Day and the few days that follow, both children and adults would change into new outfits that are mostly decked in red or bright colors. Friends and families would visit each other's homes and exchange seasonal greetings. With most shops and businesses closed, the streets of Singapore are relatively quiet on the first day of the Chinese New Year.
Each family or individual would carry vivid paper carriers that contains a pair of Mandarin oranges or tangerines. Oranges and tangerines are a must-have for any Chinese New Year house visitation, as the fruit symbolizes gold. During Chinese New Year, instead of presents, kids and unmarried adults receive red packets filled with money. This money is believe to help transfer fortune to the recipient and they can also be given between bosses and employees, co-workers, and friends.