By Nush Khan
Lunar New Year in Singapore
Chinese New Year falls on Friday, January 27 this year. As a non-Chinese team member working for UIB here in our Singapore head offices, I decided to find out more about what this year signifies. I wanted to learn more about the holiday and its traditions, so I put on my investigating outfit — red, of course, for good luck — and went to hunt down the answers.
Chinese New Year is the grandest celebration observed by over a billion people around the world bringing together even far-flung family members. It follows the Lunar calendar, running on a 12-year cycle with each year represented by both animal and element signs. This year, we are ushering in the year of the fire rooster.
The rooster is the tenth animal in the cycle of 12 animals. It is believed that everyone prescribes to the traits of the animal and element of the year in which they’re born. For example, people born in years of the rooster will be both punctual and faithful.
To have a prosperous and lucky year, the new year must be ushered in with traditions symbolizing luck and prosperity. One such practice is yusheng (魚生), which translates as “prosperity toss.” Yusheng is a plate full of different ingredients, including noodles, vegetables, raw fish, and sauces. People attending the party gather around the yusheng plate with their chopsticks at the ready, and on the cue will mix and toss the ingredients as high as they can (without flipping them off the plate).
The higher you toss the ingredients in your yusheng plate, the greater the luck and prosperity you will have in the new year (it’s also delicious!).
During the family’s reunion dinner, members bring gifts of oranges. Why? Oranges are brought as gifts because the Chinese word for orange sounds like the Chinese world for wealth. Listen for yourself here (https://translate.google.com/#en/zh-CN/wealth) and here (https://translate.google.com/#en/zh-CN/orange). That, and oranges kind of look like gold, so bringing oranges means you are wishing for money for the people you give them to.
Chinese New Year is not, however, all about prosperity and good luck. Measures are also taken to ensure bad luck is not bought into the new year. To scare away evil spirits and bad luck, people wear the color red. Chinese people also decorate the entrance of their homes with red decorations to invite in good luck. People will also visit their extended families during the first few days of the holiday to receive older relatives’ blessings. Red envelopes filled with money are given out to younger family members.
The Chinese New Year is about reuniting with loved ones, good food, and prosperity for the coming year. So may your year of the fire rooster be filled with love, peace, wealth, health, and lots of amazing moments. Gong Xi Fa Cai!
— Ken Herron (@KenHerron) January 27, 2017
Born and raised in Bangladesh, Nush traveled to Singapore 16 years ago where she fell in love with the diverse country’s Chinese culture and heritage. When she’s not blogging about Lunar New Year, Nush writes about IoT, AI, and NLP. She is UIB’s Key Account Manager and also a certified accountant.