10 CNY Traditions in S’pore & What They Really Represent

Image: Alexlky / Shutterstock.com

Once again, Chinese New Year is just around the corner and we are excited for another round of feasting and quality family time with our loved ones. Many of the things we do in preparation and during the new year have plenty to do with traditions that have been passed on for generations.

However, do we truly know what these traditions represent despite the fact that we’ve been practicing these things for years? If you don’t and you’re curious, here’s a list of 10 Chinese New Year traditions and what they really mean.

1) Chinese Calligraphy

chinese new year traditions: calligraphy
Image Source: Mashable

Often times, we see people hang gorgeous calligraphy on their walls in their homes, offices and shops. These calligraphy of different characters symbolise so much more instead of being just a decoration that will make your house look more festive. For instance, the character 福 represents fortune and luck and turning the character upside down is a play on the word implying that fortune has arrived.

If you’re keen to learn how to do gorgeous calligraphy for more luck, you can check out calligraphy and other Chinese New Year workshops.

2) Chinese New Year Snacks

chinese new year traditions: snacks
Image Source: Must Share News

Without a doubt, the most sinful part of Chinese New Year has to be all those scrumptious snacks. However, did you know that even these snacks have hidden auspicious meanings? For instance, pineapple tarts represent luck and prosperity while love letters signify fertility.

There are lots of Chinese New Year snack making workshops in our list of 12 CNY Workshops To Up Your Culture Game. Try your hand at it!

3) Exchanging Mandarin Oranges

chinese new year traditions: exchanging oranges
Image Source: Expat Living Hong Kong

One of the more common traditions around is the exchange of oranges during visitation. Did you know that it actually represents good luck and good fortune? Makes you want to pass more oranges around this New Year!

4) Fireworks and Firecrackers

chinese new year traditions: fireworks and firecrackers
Image Source: Time Out Singapore

Fireworks and firecrackers are absolutely gorgeous and are perfect for those Boomerangs for the gram but did you know that they have symbolic meanings? It was said that in ancient times, a monster called Nian would go around the villages during the eve of New Year to terrorise the people as well as to eat their livestock. To scare Nian away, the people used the loud noises and bright lights from the fireworks and firecrackers, to which people have continued to do so till today.

Firecrackers might be banned in Singapore but you can still check out Chinatown’s Light Up and other lit activities in Chinese New Year 2019: 10 Activities in Chinatown to Bask in the Festivities!

5) Lion Dances

chinese new year traditions: lion dance
Image Source: China Daily

The thundering sound of the drums signal the coming of the Chinese New Year and that means a lion dance performance! Aside from how beautiful and entertaining they are, there is more meaning to it than what meets the eye. Lion dances actually symbolise power, wisdom and superiority. This is to bring good fortune as well as to chase away evil spirits. It is even said that if a lion “bites” you on the head, you’re going to be extra lucky that year!

Lion dance is physically and mentally demanding, and we actually have listed a workshop for that in our list of 12 CNY Workshops To Up Your Culture Game! Work your body at it!

6) Giving red packets, or hongbaos

chinese new year traditions: red packets hongbao
Image Source: Honeycombers Singapore

Some might argue getting red packets with money, or hongbaos are better than getting presents! It’s the one thing that all kids look forward to during Chinese New Year, and understandably, adults are jealous. Besides money, the other good news is that red packets symbolise good luck as well as a way to ward off evil spirits. Sounds like a double whammy – you’ll be getting money and protection!

We’ve often waited for tomorrow for a meal with our family. But what if tomorrow never comes? Watch this and you'll understand:

7) Reunion Dinners

chinese new year traditions: reunion dinner
Image Source: The Star Malaysia

Reunion dinners are considered one of the most important get-together meals for the entire year as it is a chance for everyone, young and old, to reunite together for a meal despite their own busy and hectic schedules. We know that you may be avoiding that kaypoh auntie of yours who keeps asking you to get married, but it’s only once a year, give her a chance!

8) Spring Cleaning (not with Marie Kondo)

chinese new year traditions: spring cleaning marie kondo
Image Source: The Japan Times

Marie Kondo’s Netflix series came out at the right time where people who celebrate Chinese New Year all over the world have begun their spring cleaning! Besides keeping things that spark joy and get rid of things that don’t, it is also important to sweep away and get rid of the bad luck so that you don’t bring it into the New Year with you.

If you, however, have way too much junk than you can handle and you want to turn that into something useful then why not set up a flea to do so? That way you can even make some money out of it to buy a new outfit for Chinese New Year! Check out some of the flea markets featured here in our article of 7 Upcoming Must-Go Flea Markets in Singapore for Best Cheap Finds.

9) Staying up past midnight

chinese new year traditions: staying up past midnight
Image Source: Flemming Bo Jensen

Parents normally encourage their kids to go to bed early so that they will have enough rest for the next day. On the eve of Chinese New Year however, it is a different story. Everyone will try to stay up past midnight as it is important to welcome in the New Year. For kids, the longer they stay awake, the longer their parents live!

If you feel restless at night, how about doing something from our list of 13 Places To Go And Things To Do In The Middle Of The Night? You know you’ll want to.

10) Tossing up the Yu Sheng

chinese new year traditions: yu sheng
Image Source: Mothership

One of our absolute favourite things to do during the New Year is to toss some yu sheng. Not only is it fun to do, it is also incredibly delicious to munch on! Aside from that, it represents good fortune, wealth and long life. The individual components also have different auspicious meanings. For instance, fish symbolises abundance, oil represents money from all directions and peanut crumbs represent households filled with gold and silver.

This article originally appeared on BeScene SG.