It seems like Christmas just happened, and already many places in Singapore are starting to put up Chinese New Year decorations. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year traditionally is about celebrating Spring’s arrival and the New Year on the lunisolar calendar. Friends and families use this time to gather together for a good time involving delicious food, games, and red packets.
In this article, we have compiled some of the best tricks and tips for celebrating the new year. If this year is your turn to host the auspicious party, discover how you can traditionally and successfully do so with our blazing tips!
Preparing for Chinese New Year: Traditions to note
Chinese New Year traditions stem from the concept of togetherness and new beginnings. The key event that happens a day before Chinese New Year is the reunion dinner, where friends and families gather together from wherever they are over dinner involving a wide spread of delicious food, snacks, and rounds of mahjong. In the past, people would set off firecrackers to usher in the new year, but that has since been banned in Singapore.
As you prepare for the auspicious celebration, here are some traditions that you might want to note:
- Decorate your home in red – red couplets, red lanterns, red “firecrackers”, red balloons, and red paper cut-outs that signifies warding off evil and prosperity.
- Place mandarin oranges in the centre of the table or the space. They signify good fortune and abundance.
- Clean your home. It signifies sweeping away the old and any bad fortune from the previous year and creating a new space for fortune and positive energy.
- Shopping. If you have not bought new clothes for a while, now is the time to do so, preferably something in a red or similar hue.
Check and confirm your guest list
Chinese New Year is the day, or in some cases, days, for you to gather friends and families that you have not seen in a long while. Hence, make sure to invite all of them. If your religion practises honouring your ancestors, do not forget to place your ancestors’ pictures, grab a couple of incense holders, and place the identical dishes and snacks on the altar too! Lighting the incense signifies the bridging of the relationship between the living and the dead.
Preparing the reunion dinner – Creating the best menu
Now that you have confirmed your guest list and set up your home, it is time to decide on the menu. Besides having yummy dinner decorations, you also want to ensure that the food itself is delicious too! Traditionally, each dish on the table should represent a different fortune. While it may vary depending on your dialect, we have some critical staples in mind.
- Cantonese: Steamed whole fish, long-life vegetable noodles, lotus root and pork soup, egg rolls, poached chicken with ginger and scallion sauce, and nian gao
- Vegetarian: Dumplings, egg drop tomato soup, Chinese walnut cookies, buddha’s delight, yu choy sum
- Hotpot: Sliced meat, meatballs, mushrooms, noodles, vegetables
Fortune is key to this whole celebration. If you are married, gifting money in red packets to single individuals, especially children, is an avenue to bring in luck and good fortune for the year. You might want to give in the lucky number of six and eight. Never give amounts with the number four as that number; when translated to Chinese, “si” sound similar to death in Chinese.
Whether you are planning an intimate gathering of close friends and family or a community affair involving everybody you know, it is crucial to know what goes right with the festivity. That means choosing the right colour, saying the right things, and preparing suitable dishes.
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