Chinese New Year (CNY) is just round the corner. If you are a new expat in Singapore and this is the first time you’ll be experiencing this festival here, you may not be sure what to expect. Here are some quick facts about CNY to get you up to speed.
1. CNY marks the start of spring
Chinese New Year (also called Lunar New Year) is known as the Spring Festival. Celebrated by in Singapore as well as by other Chinese communities across the world, it is a time for families to come together. CNY is based on the lunar calendar and starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and marks the beginning of the spring season.
2. Each year is represented by an animal from the Chinese Zodiac
Each year in the lunar calendar is represented by an animal from the Chinese Zodiac, which runs for a 12-year cycle. The 12 animals from the Chinese Zodiac are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pick. In 2023, CNY will begin on 22 January 2023. This will usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
3. The family reunion dinner is a key highlight of CNY celebrations
On the eve of CNY, family members get together to celebrate by having a reunion dinner. In Singapore, it is common for families to have a steamboat dinner, where various raw ingredients such as seafood, meat, fishballs and vegetables are cooked in the pot of bubbling soup at the center of the table. Other families may also opt to cook sumptuous dishes instead or dine out at Chinese restaurants for their reunion dinner.
4. Spring cleaning
In the weeks leading up to CNY, families usually partake in spring cleaning to prepare the home for CNY. This involves decluttering, deep cleaning every inch of the home and sprucing up and decorating the home to prepare for CNY. This annual cleaning ritual is also a very practical thing to do as you force yourself to get rid of things you don’t want and get your home sparkling clean.
5. CNY lasts for 15 days
CNY lasts for 15 days, with each day representing different things. But in modern Singapore, CNY celebrations have become simpler. In Singapore, the first and second day of CNY are public holidays. The eve of CNY (reunion dinner) and the first day are usually considered the most important days as that’s when family gatherings occur. The 15th and final day is called “Chap Go Meh” where families may gather again for a meal. In between, people may head back to work and continue to celebrate by having gatherings and meals with friends, families and colleagues.
Don’t forget to check out our other article for tips on how to celebrate CNY in Singapore.