Chinese New Year 2014 was an entirely new experience for me! Being born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Chinese New Year never quite features on the list of publicly celebrated holidays! Oh, we do celebrate it with much eating of steamboat and handing out of ang pao (red money packets) but it’s all very much a family affair.
Walking around Singapore during the week before Chinese New Year, there is no denying the excitement and festive feeling in the air – literally! Everywhere you go your senses are bombarded. Rows upon rows of bright red decorations promise prosperity and good luck for the year to come. Shopping centre stereos blare “Dong dong dong chiang! Gong xi ni! Gong xi fa cai!” (Congratulations, happy new year!). People rush around making sure that their houses are filled to overflowing with food and special symbolic items such as oranges and mandarins for abundance and good fortune, and gourds for good health and prosperity. Preparations must all be made ready in time for the first day of New Year as it is believed that the state of your household at the start of the year reflects your fortunes to be in the upcoming year. And Chinese people wholeheartedly believe that more is more!
Singapore goes into a heady and happy furore in the lead up to Chinese New Year Eve and celebrates the big night with a citywide party! Then, the city that never slows down becomes peculiarly quiet as people spend the following days visiting their family and neighbours, a time where there is no greater priority than connecting with each other. If only there were more days like these.