Chinese New Year, Through The Eyes Of An Expat (Part2)

Luck, Oranges and a fist fight. How does that fit together? In my second part of trying to explain the Chinese New Year from an expats point of view, the customs and traditions will be explained in more detail. Enjoy the below and continue reading if you want to find out how to make some… Read more »

Luck, Oranges and a fist fight.
How does that fit together? In my second part of trying to explain the Chinese New Year from an expats point of view, the customs and traditions will be explained in more detail. Enjoy the below and continue reading if you want to find out how to make some extra money these days
(Read: Chinese New Year, Through The Eyes Of An Expat (Part1)

Ancient Chinese makeup SingaporePhoto by FaceMePLS

Getting Lucky, Honoring The Eldest (A Typical First Morning Of The New Year)

Tradition is tradition, but can be altered. Usually the younger family members would visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents, but today, at least thats what i got told, an SMS or Email instead is not unusual to avoid the long sit ins with your family.

However, if you short on the left side of the balance sheet and that new Flat screen TV is still a couple of dollars away, you better go and show up in person.
Because where the youngest pay respect in visiting the eldest, the eldest pay respect and “bring luck” by giving out red envelopes, so called Hong Baos, filled with money.

The Almighty Red Envelope (Traditional Presents)

Giving and Taking. This is very important in the Asian culture. And if possible should always be leveled up.

The envelopes are usually given out by the eldest to the children and unmarried, or by companies to their customers, supposedly bringing more luck to the people by scaring away the bad ghosts. (Which by now, if still surviving, must be veery bad ghosts indeed)

Hong Bao In SingaporePhoto by Li Ji

The envelopes are usually filled with amounts ending with even numbers like 88 and 168, as odd-numbered money gifts are traditionally associated with funerals. Furthermore there is a widespread tradition that money should not be given in fours, or the number four should not appear in the amount, as the number itself has a similar tone to the Chinese character for “death”, and it signifies bad luck for many Chinese.

More Presents, Tangerines This Time

If you don’t give out a Hong Bao, it is tradition to bring other small presents during friends or family visits such as fruits, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, or candies.

However, it is very common to give your hosts two tangerines or oranges upon your visit and get two of the same type back once leaving the house. The fruits symbolize luck and fulfillment, and you will definitely stay healthy as well, having enough fruits to serve you for the next weeks.

Crackers, Fireworks And Fun, Not In Singapore

When its New Years Eve in Europe, people are usually drunk and do stupid things with their self build firework constructions. This results in a lot of work for the local Firefighters and Medical Teams, but in the end, is part of the game.

In Asia not any more though. Almost all countries have banned private fireworks from the agenda, organizing one “official” firework for the masses instead. And Singapore is not really surprisingly no exception here.

Fireworks In SingaporePhoto by Hiddenloop

A first partial ban on firecrackers was imposed in March 1970 after a fire killed six people and injured 68. the partial ban was extended to a total ban in August 1972, after an explosion that killed two people and an attack on two police officers attempting to stop a group from letting off firecrackers in February 1972.
Now the government has fireworks at the Marina Bay, and firecrackers are set off by the Tourism board in China town every year, 12AM, at Chinese New Year eve.

The Dancing Dragon And A Lot Of Bad Luck

Again… as if not enough luck would have been spread already, the Dragon Dance of course, is for only one purpose… Luck! Yes you guessed right.

The dragon is the old symbol oft the Chinese nation, and by praying to him, you hope for a better turn of your life. Having a dragon dancing around you is supposed to get you onto an even higher level of everything I guess.

But besides the dragons, there are things you are definitely not supposed to do, if you want to start healthy and with that extra portion of luck into the new Chinese New Year. Namely things like cutting your hair or buying new shoes. And since this good / bad luck showdown is kind of interesting I will write an extra post about it.
(Read: Never Do These Things At Chinese New Year)

Chinese New Year – Getcha Groove On

I hope you feel more comfortable with everything happening around you now and you are eagerly waiting for the red envelopes to fly in…

I wish you “Gong Xi Fa Cai” and a happy new Chinese New Year!




Great explanation! There are so many traditions relating to CNY, it is sometimes hard for me as an expat to fatham it all…it’s amazing that everything is symbolic, from the oranges to the colour of the clothes you wear.
Your blog is full of great information; I can’t believe I didn’t think to look earlier..I will be back.
Gong Xi Fa Cai


Hey Milly, thanks for the nice comment, yes i agree, its kind of overwhelming when you arrive here first and there are so many things to take care of :)

I try to compensate and compromise all the information i have gathered and still gather into my blog, helping people like you and me… i am glad you enjoy it!

john deware

The one who wrote that blog obviously dosn’t know what he is talking about….
Chinese New Year in Mainland china is a phicological torture, I can’t see any other way to describe it…
For two weeks, at any time of the day stupids chinese people are lighting up crappy firework at teh front of their building especially during evening, night and early in teh morning, so that local residents can’t catch a break.
At interval of every 2 mn, there’s is detonation all other the city of shanghai, where I leave, starting at 7am in teh morning and very often earlier than that.
When teh firewroks blows up is triggers car alarm adding even mmroe death hearing, since building are very close to each others most detonation happen within 10 meters to your window, all day long.
If your unlucky enough to have kids, they’ll be begging for an end to it, as they won’t be abble to sleep either.
Being 4 years in China, I found out that middle class chinese are not likely to abuse other people as much as poorer class.
It seems that it’s a way to attract attention for chinese people who have a miserable life and who once a year, unload their hanger of the system and their own sociaty they pride so much by unloading a torrent of fireworks for 2 weeks.I realise that as when I was living in a poor area of shanghai fireworks were incessant but in richer area, firework were limited somewhat.
To me it is simply abuse, pushing people to their limits.
In abbu graib, they were soldier playing music really load in prison cells so that prisoners will beg for it to stop as the noise was unbearable..
It feels the same here, as in this momment were I’m writting this, there’s detonation coming from everywhere, with car alarm ringing, it’s constant chaos…and yet what does the government doing??
Is it normal that families gathering for their only hollydays have to go through this hell, with the chinese govenment not regulating anything, letting peole just do whatever they can to noise-abuse their neibourgs??
So you can’t write blog in china because it’s suppose to disturb social harmony but it’s ok to screw around with firework on sunday morning a pm, lighting up the equivalent of a small bomb arsenal and depriving everybody of their sleep??
this is one more proof that the chinese governemtn isn’t interested in building a sociaty where mutual respect exist but rather is more interested in keepign its control on sociaty.
One more proof is that I went to the police station to complain about the nois, and that teh police wouldn’t do anything, but if I was protesting more more business dererugulation and more freedom of speech in teh street I’ll be immediatly arested.
Screw China and its peopple society…there’s nothing for the people in this country, chinese governement are just irresponsable scumbags..


To john deware:

Geez, read the title again. “From the eyes of expat”. It means he is explaining CNY from what he knows. Doesn’t matter if he knows a lot or nothing. And what you are talking isn’t about CNY, it is about the China Gov and what has that got to do with CNY? There are Chinese in almost every country in the world, you wanna whine about their Gov as well?

If you really hate the way China Gov handles the country then go to those politics website and whine. This is a website about an Ang Moh In Singapore. Nothing China about it.

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