February 18, 2018, by Anjni
Chinese New Year – Learning About Its Festivities
Chinese New Year (also called the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival) is the most anticipated event of the year in the Chinese calendar and is a FANTASTIC spectacle to witness. Seen as a public holiday here in Singapore, us students were lucky enough to be given time off to observe and enjoy the celebrations that come with such an event, and let me tell you, it was glorious! The intricate red lanterns that laced the markets, massive parades with beautiful dragons and the spectacular fireworks which marked the countdown were but a few of the things that made this event so fascinating! What’s more though, is that I was actually able to learn more about the history of such an event and some of the traditions behind it, and I thought I’d share it with you.
The colour red is symbolically significant in Chinese culture and is associated with celebration, vitality and good fortune. As such, it is the colour of choice for decorations and attire, and is usually donned during this period.
Cleaning and Decorating the Home
A fresh, New Year is marked by a beautifully clean home. Before the event, the house is meant to be swept and dusted from top to bottom. In doing so, you’re effectively cleaning away the old year, removing any unwanted problems or metaphorical baggage.
Once spic-and-span, homes are adorned with decorations. Much like how people decorate their houses for Christmas, homes are also decorated to ring-in the Spring Festival. Whilst you’ll find large lanterns lacing the market-stalls, many homes will in fact have Spring Couplets (Chūn Lián), banners made of red paper, hung outside their doors. Couplets tend to be embossed with gold lettering, and read messages of renewal and hope for the coming year. Fresh flowers are also used to welcome the Spring season, with each plant symbolising something different. For example water narcissus’ represent luck, plum-blossoms signify hope and longevity, and lucky bamboo symbolises resilience and health.
Probably the most important dinner of the year, this meal is a large event that serves to bring families together to celebrate and usher in the New Year. Each dish is symbolic of certain qualities which you wish to bring into the New Year with you. For example oranges signify wealth, whole fish shows abundance, whilst long grain rice and any leafy greens are symbolic of longevity.
But of course, this time of year is about much more than just filling your bellies to the brim. It’s about quality-time with loved ones and showing appreciation and gratitude for everything we’ve been blessed with.
Overall, I think it’s been a great experience. My friends and I attempted to recreate the festivities; having our very own Steamboat, watching fireworks and parades, and just being a part of Singapore’s celebrations this Lunar New Year. In immersing myself in the culture, I’ve learnt quite a few things during this period. And after this mammoth of a blog-post, I hope you have too!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
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