Chinese New Year is considered the single most important festival in Singapore but for many of us, all the traditions and superstitions that surround this festive period are still shrouded in mystery. Take for example, do you know why we should meet up with relatives for reunion dinner? Or do you know why we wear red and light up firecrackers on new year’s day? To help you acquaint yourself with the holiday, we spell out some Chinese New Year traditions here:
1. Yu Sheng
Yu Sheng sounds like the word “abundance” in Mandarin, so this traditional raw fish salad signifies abundance, vigour and prosperity. Every ingredient in the dish represents a different auspicious wish so try to say these out loud while you’re tossing them up as high as possible. The higher you go, the greater your luck!
2. Wishing Tree
During Chinese New Year, wishing trees pop up around Singapore and revellers can choose to write their wishes on a piece of red ribbon. Toss this over the tree so that it can collect on the branches, remaining there for your wish to come true.
“Head” is synonymous to “beginning” in the Chinese language, so it is a common custom to not wash your hair in the first three days of Chinese New Year, lest the unnecessary altering of a good beginning.
(Read more: 15 Chinese New Year Superstitions And Taboos)
4. Ang Bao
It is generally practised that in the first two weeks of Chinese New Year, married couple are obliged to give ‘lucky money’ concealed in red packets to children or single young adults to begin the new year. This is a centuries old tradition and many variations have evolved over time.
5. Lion Dances
Lions are auspicious animals in traditional Chinese culture and so lion dances came about as a way to bring good luck to the community. It is said that the longer the lion is – propped up by scores of dancers – the more luck it’ll bring.
Traditionally, Chinese Households set off firecrackers during New Year to scare off bad spirits. However, this tradition is slowly fading away because many countries now ban firecrackers as they are deemed as hazardous materials.
(Read more: How To Get Steamboat Delivered To Your House)
7. Wearing Red
Red is the colour of luck and fortune. It is also believed that red helps to scare away bad luck and will bring prosperity unto the wearer so many people like to wear this hue or other bright colours to go with the festive and upbeat mood of a new year.
8. Reunion Dinners
Reunion dinner is not just about the food. Although good food is essential, it’s also about gathering and catching up with family members, relatives, and friends, many of whom we only get to meet once a year.
9. Spring Cleaning
Make an extra effort to clean your house three days prior to Chinese New Year. Clean all the nooks and crannies at home as by cleaning the home it represents an end to the past.
(Read more: 30 Ways To Declutter And Spring-Clean Your Entire Home For CNY)
10. Eating Sweets
Among all of the treats served in Chinese New Year, sweet dumplings and rice cakes are must-eats. As they are the shape of old silver and gold ingots (an old form of currency), Chinese believe that eating dumplings will bring prosperity and a sweet beginning to the coming year.