Monday, February 15, 2010

Chinese New Year Celebration 2010 at Singapore’s Chinatown

First and foremost, Happy Lunar New Year to Everyone! Those who didn’t know it is Chinese Lunar New Year yesterday, which coincidentally coincide with Valentine’s Day this year.
Some background information before I go on elaborating on photos which I took at Chinatown earlier on. Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of Spring, usually end of January or early February if compared against Western calendar. It was introduced by Emperor Huang Ti during 2600 BC and is now Lunar Year 4708 this year.
Every Lunar New Year is represented by a Zodiac animal and there are 12 of them. For 2010, it happened to be the year of Tiger, specifically “Golden” Tiger (Gold is one of the five elements).  

Photo taken at the Junction outside Chinatown point. The Chinese Characters read “Hua Kai Fu Gui” and “Ying Chun Jie Fu” which meant “Flowers bloomed in Prosperity” and “Come Forth Spring and Receive Good Fortune”.
Lunar New Year is a major festival for the Chinese. In Singapore, where majority of the population are Chinese, the celebrations are no less elaborate as compared to China, Hong Kong or even Taiwan. Of course, those countries might have longer holidays than Singapore, but Chinese here do place much importance in the celebration.
To soak in the Chinese New Year Celebration in Singapore, one should really hopped down to Chinatown for the atmosphere.There are lightings too, albeit like Christmas at Orchard Road. Of course, instead of coldness, Chinese New Year lightings emits more warms and uses more reds in the decor which is Chinese’s auspicious colour.  
Ok, some might think it is really that cliché, but since it is the year of the Golden Tiger, the decor had to reflect that. Look at the photo – how many tigers can you find? Again, for the benefit of those who do not read Chinese characters, it read “Wu Fu Lin Men” which meant “Good Fortune Arrived Upon Your Door”.
Other than the “tigers” decor lining up the streets, the organisers also uses plentiful of spring flowers to soften the look.
Specifically Peach Blossom.
Peach Blossom is considered as an auspicious Spring flowers. They have very good connotations to Chinese. You see, in order to bloom, they had to endure harsh winter and the colder the winter, the more flowers they will bloomed. Thus, it was generally looked upon as a sign of perseverance. Then it is also the flower which could enhanced one’s interpersonal relations luck, so to singles and those who are in need of some interpersonal luck – buy some and place them at home.
Because Singapore’s weather too hot, you never really get to see a living plant one here. Organisers therefore uses plastic one which romanticise the atmosphere. I wondered if it was that they had taken into consideration that the festival coincided with Valentine’s day.
Before Chinese New Year, this famed stall Lim Chee Guan will start to attract lines of crowd, queuing for their famous Pork Jerky . They do open during normal days, but it is only during this period that they will get more customers. You see, Pork Jerky is a Chinese New Year must-have food stuff and even though the prices inflated sky-high during then, people are still willingly queuing hours for it.
Look at their lighted signboard. Pork Jerky and Pork Floss.

Apparently, they have been around since 1938.
For those who are not sure what Pork Jerky is. It is basically meat slices marinated with Chinese spices and flavouring and BBQed to perfection. 
See close up of the Pork Jerky. It has a stronger taste with a hint of smokiness to it. Sweet and salty which makes it a very good snack for beer. It is one of my favourite Chinese New Year foodstuff.
This photo is taken at another famous Pork Jerky stall named “Mei Zhen Xiang”. Poor guy, closer to Chinese New Year period, they have to BBQ quite a number of tons of meat slices everyday. I don’t want to be in his shoes – getting greasy and smoked everyday for long hours.
At the temporary market in Chinatown, there are many stalls like the above which sells Chinese New Year decoration.
Like how the Christmas decorations are predominately Green and Red, Chinese New Year ones are usually Red!
Roar! Aren’t this tiger puppet cute? I didn’t ask how much it cost though, but I quite like it.
While the above is tiger, this is its cousin – the lion. One of the traditions of Chinese New Year is the lion dance. Performed by two people, it supposedly wards of evil and bad luck and bring in good fortune for people.
Well of course, how can we forget Chinese’s all time favourite mythical creature – the Dragon?! Unlike the lion dance, Dragon dance, which is also one of the traditional performance during Chinese New Year, requires a team of people to perform.
Mid-way of the Chinese New Year Street Market.
When we were there earlier on, there wasn’t as many people along the streets.
At about 8 to 9 something, crowds formed. It is so hard to walk along the streets. I find it stressful as I have to constantly look out for my wallet and bag.
In the temporary market, hawkers sells all sort of festive foodstuff. The above sells Sunflower seeds known to Chinese as “Kua Ji”. It comes in many favours – Tea flavoured ones, salted ones. They also sells branded peanuts which I quite like. It tasted fresher and sweeter than those you get from supermarket.
There are generally two types of Kua Ji. Red ones and Black ones. They like many representative Chinese New Year food stuff has auspicious connotation.
Just as we were in the taxi (after much long wait), we passed by an overhead bridge which was also beautifully decorated with more auspicious well-wishes.
With the above, I wish everyone a Peaceful and Prosperous Lunar New Year! 
To read more about Chinese New Year Celebrations in Singapore, click here - Chinese New Year.

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