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)
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)
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.
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!