Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chinese New Year Celebration In Singapore - Part One

Lunar New Year is an important festival for Chinese all around the world. It marks the beginning of the lunar year which falls on 26 January this year. Every year is represented by a zodiac animal and it happens to be the Year of Ox for 2009.

As an ancient festival, there are many customs and superstitions following it. Chinese believed that having a good start for the year will bring good luck and abundance fortune for the rest of the year. Thus, many of the customs are symbolically meant to boost good luck and fortune.
Before the start of the celebration, first and foremost important thing is Spring Cleaning which is to clean the house thoroughly. People will also take the opportunity to discard the old and spoilt items and to replace it with new one. Isn’t it a good excuse for shopping?

Anyway, Chinese New Year in Singapore will kick starts with lights up of streets in Chinatown. Some places will have Pasar Malam (temporary market place which usually opened after dusk) selling festive related items. See photos below.

Colourful plastic flowers. I am not how the trend started but I always suspect it to be an influence from our fellow Malay Singaporeans who usually buy them during Hari Raya for decoration purposes. Chinese will also buy plastic almost life-like flowers to decorate their house, but the other reason more valid reason was that Singapore’s weather is too hot and fresh flowers wilt easily, thus plastic flowers are preferred so that it will looked good for a longer period of time.

Not just any flowers, but flowers with auspicious meaning and colours (usually bright colours).

Peony - Prosperous

Red is an auspicious colour for Chinese, thus anything including flowers in shades of red colour will be an auspicious bet.

How can we leave out "edibles" when comes to celebration? Especially for Singaporeans, food is an important factor in celebration.

Various jars of Chinese New Year Goodies, all sorts of tarts, biscuits, cookies and crisps are for sale! In fact, 5 jars are selling at $11 dollars. The Chinese sign says "It costed so cheap that you will be laughing!" Though cheap, I must say the quality is of course not good.

Chinese New Year Goodies in different packaging. They costed slightly less - 5 for $6 dollars!

These snacks only started to appear in recent years. They are Taiwanese Mochi (rice cake). Sweet with many different flavours. They are quite expensive too.

Can you guess what are these? Hint: It is a fruit...

They are persimmons - air-dried. Looked slightly unpleasant, but they tasted alright with not repulsive smell. sweet and had a more intense flavour than the fresh ones. The texture is albeit chewy, almost like Gummy Bear. A traditional eat for Lunar New Year. Half a kilograms costed $3 and one kilograms costed $5.

Mini pumpkins. These are usually used for offering to Gods. They are chosen for the auspicious colour and name - the pronunciation for pumpkins in Chinese or Hokkien is Golden Melon. The sign wrote - Strike Rich Golden Fruit! What better way to improve one’s feeling in face of the poor economy?

Gourd! Each for 2 dollars. My mum says the gourd is for good luck as it will drive evil spirits and demons! *Gourd in hand bellows: Be gone, all baddies!

Mandarin Oranges! We usually bring a pair of the Oranges to exchange with relatives. The Chinese and many dialect prononciation of mandarin oranges sounded like Gold! They actually symbolised good luck and fortune!

Read more about Chinese New Year in Singapore under Chinese New Year category.

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