Chinese New Year is an important event on the calendar. It’s the time for gatherings, reunions, and some hot, hot deals. But, as anyone with experience will testify, it’s not always all that smooth-sailing to get through the festive period. Especially with a handful of inquisitive relatives, and their passive-aggressive “When are you getting married?” questions, the tight deadline to get everything prepared, the house cleaned, the food prepared…and the worst part? How to actually spend the holidays. Here’s a checklist from us here at Car Club to ready yourself for this celebration – 10 tips to survive CNY 2018.
1. Check your wardrobe – make sure at least one item is red
Image source: @bbluemagpie
Or you’ll be thrown out of your grandparents’/ relatives’/ friends’ houses when you go CNY visiting. Red is an auspicious colour for many reasons, one being that it is the colour which drove the Nian away – a mythological beast that devoured children, and quite possibly a homonym or even metaphor for the preceding year (“nian” in Mandarin).
You’re probably more familiar with its modern incarnation, as the Lion in the Lion Dance found island-wide during CNY. Cute, isn’t it?
Image source: H&M
Or take some inspiration from popular Chinese actress Yang Mi and her on-screen beau, Mark Chao, in a series of ads for H&M. Both starred in Eternal Love, the hugely successful period drama that took the Mandarin-speaking world by storm.
The clothes are chic yet affordable, with the reds in tastefully cool tones. Nothing worse than loud, obnoxious reds shouting: “CHINESE NEW YEAR!” While no stranger to high-profile, celebrity endorsements such as David Beckham, this time around, it appears that the Swedish retailer is setting its sights on the booming Chinese market.
2. Remember your oranges
Image source: Her World
Do not go visiting without your oranges! But did you know there are different types of CNY oranges? Not one, not two, but thirteen. Yes, you read that right. We’ll only cover the better known and popular types here.
The most popular around is Ponkan, which originates from Taiwan, and is a mandarin-pomelo hybrid. It is easy to peel and has a puffy skin. Next up is the Swatow, which comes from China. Slightly more difficult to peel, it is mainly chosen for its long-lasting quality.
Also from China is another variant called Lukan. This is another popular choice as it is refreshingly sweet and tangy. Last, we have the Kinno from, surprisingly, Pakistan. This mandarin orange is usually used for juicing or cooking purposes. Don’t overdose, as you’ll likely end up with a sore throat.
Although, to tell you the truth…they don’t look all that different.
3. Remember to bring your dogs along
Image source: Night Owl Cinematics YouTube
Because it’s the Year of the Dog, that’s why. Dress them up and go to town! You’re guaranteed to paint the town red
Image source: @freddychoo
Or get your dog themed Ang Pao for a good cause. Hope for Animals is back with their annual red packet designs, this year featuring 21 different dog breeds. Each packet consists of 5 pieces, at $3 per packet; get two at $5. Hope for Animals will be donating part of their proceeds to their beneficiaries, all affiliated shelters and rehabilitation groups. Celebrate the Year of the Dog by helping some lovable pups! Aww.
Image source: @meisiahfoo
As if there weren’t enough viral dog videos already. This Chinese New Year brought with it some special twists. Netizens were quick to note that the annual tradition of CNY decorations at Chinatown were…well, they sure outdid themselves this year. Comments ranging from “That’s a fox, not a dog,” to the mildly inappropriate positioning of the poor pups, were circulating online. I hoped the pups enjoyed their five minutes of fame.
4. Master basic CNY greetings
Image credit: @lintinatina
Ah, the childhood rites of every adult growing up in Singapore. Did you recall the horror of scrambling for last-minute CNY greetings because the cousin in front of you just used up an entire Chinese vocabulary. That’s why we’ve compiled a list below, adapted to the different circumstances so you may use them.
For your relatives in business, the towkays:
- 财源广进 – blessed with abundant wealth
- 生意兴隆 – every success for your business
- 马到成功 – success every step of the way
- 龙马精神 – blessed with hearty vigour
For your OL/ OM (office man?) relatives:
- 平步青云 – promotions abound
- 步步高升 – promotions higher and higher
- 升官发财 – promotions and wealth hand-in-hand
For God of Gamblers:
- 吉星高照 – blessed with your lucky star
- 大吉大利 – lucky and prosperous
- 吉祥如意 – lucky and blessed
For cousins, nieces and nephews taking PSLE/ O/ N/ A levels/ Nitec/ Diploma/ Degree/ Masters/ PhD, etc.:
- 学业有成 – achieve great heights in your studies
- 金榜题名 – get onto dean’s list
And to all our readers:
- 狗年大吉 – good luck in the year of the dog
- 心想事成 – may all your wishes come true
- 年年有余 – a year of abundance
- 阖家欢乐 – may your family be close and happy with each other
5. Then repeat for Lo Hei/ Yu Sheng
Image source: Cuisine Paradise
No seriously. Every ingredient tossed into the mix must be accompanied by auspicious sayings. For those of you who face an uphill task of not knowing what to say, we’ve paired them up and made it easy for you below.
年年有余 – smoked/ raw salmon: a year of abundance
大吉大利 – pomelo slices: great luck and fortune
招财进宝 – pillow crackers/ fried yam sticks: wealth and prosperity
财源广进 – oil: may your sources of wealth be varied
鸿运当头 – carrot strips: may good luck befall you
青春常驻 – green radish strips: may you be blessed with youthful vigour
风生水起 – white radish strips: everlasting success
步步高升 – pepper and cinnamon powder: promotions every step of the way
金银满屋 – sesame seeds: blessed with abundant wealth
甜甜蜜蜜 – plum sauce: sweet and loving relationships
Once you’re done, it’s time to Lo Hei!
6. Squeeze with the crowd at Chinatown
Image source: @ari_hann
A yearly customary affair for locals and tourists alike –soaking themselves in the festive mood while jostling with the crowd at the annual CNY bazaar at Chinatown. Watch as the usually empty streets come to life with hawkers in rows of makeshift stalls peddling CNY goodies, decorations and even traditional fares such as preserved meats and duck legs. The scene appears somewhat frenzied and chaotic while the crowd is lambasted with loud CNY songs and shouts from hawkers seeking attention for their wares.
Image source: @waifonglow
I’m not a fan of preserved meats myself. The wax and candy used in the sausages always felt a little off-putting to me. However, I do like a little bit of Bak Kwa now and then. For the uninitiated, Bak Kwa is something like Chinese jerky. It has a little bit of chargrilled smokiness from the coals it was barbequed over. The sweetness might throw first-timers off though. Glazed with a thin coat of sugar, Bak Kwa is best known for its ludicrously high prices during the holiday season. The infamous Lim Chee Guan, attracts a long queue during the CNY period. Shh, don’t tell anyone I queue for it too.
7. Squeeze again at Gardens by the Bay
Image source: @lilian_bellez
Known for their magnificent floral displays, Gardens by the Bay never fails to amaze. Their annual CNY display is no exception. Titled Dahlia Dreams, this year’s display focuses on the regal Dahlias, as majestic looking as the Chinese imperial families which adopted it as their symbol. The imperial theme is apparent looking at the cardboard cut-outs placed throughout the garden.
Visitors can take a photo with any of the cut-outs around the gardens, which clearly take inspiration from ancient Chinese Imperial gardens. Stroll through the cool indoor gardens (the temperature is carefully optimized and maintained!) and keep an eye out for the God of Prosperity as he descends from the Heavens to shower wealth and luck onto onlookers.
8. And again at River Hongbao
Image source: @davidmcmahonphotography
Every CNY, watch as the Marina Bay floating platform blossoms into life and transforms into a spectacular CNY bazaar-cum-light show. Loud decorations in various shades of reds, yellows, and oranges dazzle the eye while neon lights come to life in the dark.
Image source: @todayonline
As per tradition, a large statuette of the God of Prosperity can be found in the middle of the carnival. At selected timings, gold pieces of foil with numbers written on them will burst forth from him. You might just be the next TOTO or 4D winner.
The ever-popular zodiac fortune-telling will be back as well. Expect insane crowding around the various animal effigies as the crowd gets their Chinese horoscope predictions for the new year and jostle to take photos for their Instagram.
9. And speaking of kitsch, CNY decorations
Image source: @happysingaporetimes
Isn’t decorating one of the simplest joys of life? As a child, watching the walls of my home get covered in red was one of the highlights of any CNY. Then, growing up and slowly having a say in the choice of decorations, and the yearly changes of Chinese zodiac animal – boy, that’s still exciting to me now.
Image source: @saschapberlin
And what’s gaudier or more tasteless than CNY decorations? Every year the same theme, the same colours, just variations, the overuse and outright abuse of glitter – it’s so kitsch as to be wonderful.
The “3 for $10” deals and the music issuing forth from the toys is enough to get you in the spirit of CNY.
10. Last of all: enjoy your reunion steamboat
Image source: @keithyl
The noisy fanfare that is the reunion dinner, or in local context, more likely than not – a steamboat dinner. Do it potluck style, with each guest contributing a food item, or just go for one of the many caterers out there. I hope you’ve reserved yours well in advance as I was informed the year before that reservations for CNY starts in December.
Image source: @whitechocoz
Sitting around a table together for a meal can be one of the most challenging and trying events of adulthood. And CNY is one such occasion. Be sure to deflect irksome questions from relatives on everything from impending marriage to parenthood to job advancements to…well, you only see them once a year so just smile sweetly as they make small talk and get through their checklist of topics.
And what about CNY visiting? Take a car from Car Club, and enjoy the ease of travelling around for your next Chinese New Year house visits in comfort. Slots are open for booking early in December, so there are probably limited cars available now be sure to secure your cars when booking season starts. Interested to know more about Car- Sharing and how you can enjoy its benefits? Find out more by clicking the button below.