We were just recently in Singapore and they were getting ready for Chinese New Year in a big way. The city has a thriving Chinatown, where we enjoyed food like durian, juices, temples, and shopping. Much of Singapore’s population is descended from or part-Chinese and even though English is the official language, you can hear different Chinese dialects as you wander the streets.
Everywhere we went huge lanterns in the shape of a gracefully trotting horse were being hung amongst happy gold coin lanterns, said to be “galloping towards prosperity.” The students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design created 88 of these great sculptures to display as the number eight is considered lucky. We came upon one of the building tents in the center of Chinatown and it was exciting to see them piled up, corralled, before their big debut.
After living in both Japan and Korea, I am familiar with the 12 animals of the Chinese calendar. I was born during the year of the tiger, and Jim was born in the year of the rabbit, which according to what I’ve read, means that we shouldn’t be overly compatible, but we are going on 29 years of marriage, so I guess it’s okay.
According to the zodiac,even though the horse can be a little stubborn and straight forward, he or she has some very nice qualities as well, such as:
- Good judge of character
- Good with money
- Incredibly patient
- Loyal friends
- Very compassionate and willing to lend a shoulder to cry on
There are plenty of traditions surrounding Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, and one of them is to do a thorough house cleaning to get rid of any bad spirits from the year before. Everyone likes to buy and wear new clothes, so they’ve taken full advantage of the preceding sales in all of the malls and maybe they will continue to add items in the special New Year’s market in Chinatown. This way they will also look their snazziest when attending all their family reunion dinners where they get to eat many goodies.
However, one of the children’s favorite traditions is the giving of “hong bao” which are little red envelopes filled with money. I just recently read a great “how to” on a travel blog written by Beth Williams. She lives in Hong Kong where they call this “lai see,” but it’s the same thing.
Unfortunately, we were not able to hang around until January 31st for the parades, fireworks, lion dances, nightly shows and all the other events that are happening this weekend. Maybe next year.
To read more about what is happening in Singapore during Chinese New Year, you can go here.