Dong Dong Chang - Chinese New Year

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February 9th 2014
Published: March 30th 2014
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Singapore is a very unique place. Despite the Chinese being the majority, we have been raised to respect every culture's differences, and to be more understanding towards all the different races and nationalities. Thus, when a different race is celebrating, we all celebrate together as a nation. However, the holiday in Singapore is gazetted such that each race is only allowed to have 2 days of the year designated as a public holiday for their major celebration.

For the Chinese - Chinese New Year, Malay - Hari Raya Aidifiltri and Hari Raya Haji, India - Deepavali and Vesak Day, and for the Eurasians - Good Friday and Christmas. For the Chinese, it was decided that the 2 holidays to be used on Chinese New Year. Hence, every year, the celebration for Chinese New Year is tremendous, with lots of programs, feasting and shopping.

I will also be touching a little on how the following holidays - Hari Raya Aidifiltri, Vesak Day and Christmas are being celebrated in Singapore. I will try to include Deepavali as well, but I might not be able to cover it in as much detail as I want it to be.

For some, you might realised that these are not the only festivals that are being celebrated for each race. For example, the Chinese will have other major festivals such as dumplings festival, mooncake festival, and the hungry ghost festivals. For the Indians, there are Thaipusam. And for the Eurasians, there is also Thanksgiving.

However, as these festivals, do not fall on a public holiday, it is kinda tough for workaholics like me to cover them. Nonetheless, I will try to cover them as the years go by. Meanwhile, do bear with me on these short posts.

Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year's Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year". - Wikipedia

Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity." Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. - Wikipedia

As mentioned earlier, in preparations for Chinese New Year (CNY), there are so many things to do in our preparations for the lunar new year. For the really traditional families, there are many customs that must be followed as well.

For my family, we are kinda the modern traditional, which means we will do what is necessary. Hence, we will have the annual marketing - food, grocery, decorations, and CNY goodies. These are followed by the traditional reunion dinner, temple visits and last minute shopping at Chinatown.

I also realised that there is always a Chinatown in most major countries. However, I have also come to realise that every Chinatown is different and they are unique. Each Chinatown shows how the Chinese immigrants adapted to fit into the local culture. It is a very fun fusion to experience.

As Chinese New Year is being celebrated in a very big way with lots of family reunions, friends gathering and continuous feasting, it is really important for everyone to come back home for the festival and gatherings. Moreover, Singaporean is well-known for being workaholics, for some of us, this is the one and only time when we get to see the rest of our extended family.

It is always bustling in Chinatown, with lots of different activities going on at the same time. Family getting together for early reunion dinners, some rushing around to get last-minutes deals, patiently queuing for the famous bak kwa and buying lots of other CNY goodies.

On the other hand, there are others like me, having a slow stroll, soaking in the excitement and having a fun time freezing the moment in pictures. Simply having a good time people watching. Nonetheless, I really hope that this short post will make you want to come to experience CNY in Singapore (^_^)

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