Everyone keeps asking if we are going to stay in Singapore for Chinese New Year (CNY). The reason is that it is officially a 4 day weekend and thus most non-Chinese use the time to do traveling. We on the other hand have decided to stay local, experience the festivities and
just simply enjoy a long weekend. Chinese typically have a jam packed series of days that involve spring cleaning, reunion dinner and a minimum of 2 days of visiting family.
As 70% of the Singapore population is Chinese most of the city shuts down completely for this minimum of 2 days, but some shops up to 1 week. Charles and I are most looking forward to be forced to stay home and take it easy as it has been a very crazy few weeks.
Since the city is all decorated for CNY, the office is decorated, every mall and shopping center, even our guard house has CNY decorations thus we figured we too should be festive.
At lunch today, I went with coworkers to the Market (outdoor shopping center) to buy decor. $15 later was fully outfitted with multiple decorations in varying sizes. Of course I have no idea of what any of these red, gold and glittery paper cutouts say or mean, but they are beautiful. My coworkers translate and when we get back to the office, with their help, we wrote the English spelling of the word and both the literal translation and the intention translation on the back of each one. The important one is Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced gong see fa chai) which is mandarin for “wishing happiness growing money” which equates to “wishing you happiness and prosperity” which additionally translates to “happy new year”. this is the horizontal one in the photo on the left.
It is going to be year of the Tiger and thus most decorations involve tigers as can be seen in the second photo. The second very common CNY thing you see is the character “fu” (luck), but the interesting thing about it is that for CNY you typically see this character upside down as can be seen centered in the second photo. The implied meaning of this is that luck is falling down or raining down onto you or into your home and you are trying to catch or gather as much of it as possible.
Coworkers have been coaching us on what to do and NOT do in preparation for CNY. Some are listed below:
- Do clean your whole house to wash and sweep away the back luck, bad omens and bad prosperity
- Do get a hair cut and buy new pajamas so that you are fresh for the new year (as a result hair cuts cost 50% more during this period)
- Do wash your hair and sweep your house the night before, but do neither of these things on new years day for fear of washing or sweeping the good luck and good prosperity of the new year away.
- Wear red, pink or yellow as they are considered lucky and/or prosperous
- If you were born in certain years, this upcoming year is going to be particularly unlucky for you, thus you should make sure to do extra lucky New Years things to offset it (such as I kid you not, wear red underwear). Luckily Charles (rooster) and myself (dog) do not fall into this category.
- ….and the list goes on
As you can see we’ve been learning quite a lot and it’s been quite fun. and we are officially ready for CNY