Celebrating Chinese New Year In Singapore.

Singapore Chinese New Year

I love Singapore and one of my favourite parts of the year in this fantastically diverse country is Chunjie, known throughout the world as Spring Festival, or more famously as Chinese New Year! With so many celebrations and a unique Singaporean take on cultural traditions, experiencing Singapore in February is mindblowing!

With such a large Chinese heritage in Singapore, it is no surprise that the Chinese New Year is celebrated with relish, but unlike many other countries where the celebrations are limited to small pockets of the community, Singapore embraces it across the entire city state as it does with every other religious celebration of its ethnically diverse population. Banners, animal statues related to which year is being celebrated, lanterns and the colour red are absolutely everywhere, and unlike most other places, the festivities start at the end of January and carry on to pretty much the end of February!

I have been lucky enough to spend three of the past four Chinese New Years in Singapore, and each time it is exciting and invigorating.

Singapore Chinese New Year

Singapore truly is an absolute model of multiculturalism. It is one of the many reasons why I love being here, as you not only see and experience cultures and traditions from any one of its Chinese, Malay, Tamil, Indian and Western influences, but also the subtle but unique Singapore flavour to each of the celebrations too.

With so many things going on, it can help to have a little bit of an understanding behind the traditions behind the festivities, so you can sit back, relax and just enjoy them!

Red, red everywhere!

Singapore Chinese New Year

 

Everywhere you go in Singapore will be dressed up, draped and decorated in red throughout February. Red and gold are traditional at this time of year because according to legend, they symbolize energy, happiness and good luck, and drive away evil spirits and bad luck. Whether you believe that or not, it certainly makes everything look pretty striking!

Hongbao.

The red theme continues with the red envelopes that you will see everywhere at this time of year. Wrapping money in red packets known as hongbao and giving them to others is a way of wishing them happiness, luck and prosperity in the new year. As a traveller you won’t be expected to give or recieve any – unless you want to of course – but it’s nice to know the meaning behind them all, and if you want to put a few together then Singapore have even prepared a ton of temporary pop up ATMs with crisp new notes for that exact purpose through the city!

Cleaning and decorating.

Similar to the concept of spring cleaning, the Chinese Spring Festival is a time to get rid of all the clutter, sweep away the bad luck of the previous year and usher in the new. Not that you will notice much difference in the ultra clean city anyway! But this tradition doesn’t just stop at cleaning your home, new clothes are often worn too so what better excuse do you have for going shopping in any one of the dozens of world class malls?

Observe Buddhism, or at least watch. 

Singapore temple

Head to the Thian Hock Keng Temple or the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown to get a glimpse of Buddhist traditions at this time of year. Namely lighting incense and offering symbols of wealth such as Mandarin oranges to Buddha. You can even stay to enjoy the stunning architecture!

Food, food and more food!

One of the absolute highlights of Singapore at any time of the year is the food, and there are so many mind blowing food havens that you would think it couldn’t get any better! But it does! Smith Street is not as good as it used to be with the recent refurbishments, but Chinatown in general is still the place to go for some truly awesome traditional Chinese treats. Pineapple tarts and mandarin oranges are everywhere because those fruits are associated with wealth and luck, and you have to try some nian gao, a sweet, sticky rice cake! Good luck dumplings, long, thin noodles which represent long life, spring rolls that symbolize wealth and whole fish that is meant to give you a year of wealth and happiness. Basically, order a ton of fish, dumplings, noodles and fruit off every menu you can and you are sure to have a year full of good luck, good wealth and happiness! Just make sure you make time for the gym in March!

One of the great Chinese New Year foodie traditions that has developed in Singapore – and to a slightly lesser extent Malaysia – that you must get involved in is sharing a bowl of raw fish and vegetable salad known as Yu Sheng.  Each diner then participates in the prosperity toss, where you all stick your chopsticks into the bowl, chuck them into the air and catch them on the plate. The higher the toss, the bigger your earnings will be for the year! I’m not sure what it means if the contents land on the floor – or another diners head – but it probably isn’t good so best not to get too enthusiastic!

Singapore Merlion

Now that you know a few of the basic traditions, feel free to head down to the over the top Chingay street parade,  hang out and enjoy the festivities in Chinatown or watch the performances and street art along the riverfront at the Marina Bay Sands platform and the Esplanade promenade. With so many amazing places to stay in Singapore during the festivities you really have no excuse not to. Chinese New Year in Singapore is one of the best times to see the city, and you can get a deeper understanding of the unique relationship between Chinese and Singaporean cultures too.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.

Related Articldes

Getting Around Singapore – Public Transport.

Three Days In Singapore.

Top 10 Places To Eat In Singapore.

Advertisements

Michael Huxley is a published author, freelance travel writer and founder of Bemused Backpacker. He is also a charge nurse by vocation with an interest in emergency nursing and travel medicine, but his real passion is travel. Since finding his wanderlust a decade ago in South East Asia, he has bounced from one end of the planet to another and has no intention of slowing down.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Destinations
6 comments on “Celebrating Chinese New Year In Singapore.
  1. Sha says:

    Haha, you must have celebrated often here if you know so much about it already.. 😄

  2. Upasna says:

    I visited Singapore for the first time last year, and loved it for all reasons you mentioned. The food, the colour, the cleanliness and orderliness and of course the multiculturalism. Chinese New Year looks like an awesome time to be there 😊

  3. Awesome man, I remember visiting Thian Hock Keng temple, winding through the streets while it was raining to find it. I dunno about you, but I had a really hard time making out the supposed tooth through the glass, but it was an interesting visit nonetheless.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Hi, I'm Michael! I'm a published author, qualified nurse and world travelling professional adventurer! I have spent 15 years travelling over 100 countries and I want to inspire you to do the same! Want to know more about me? Just click here!

Get notified about all the latest travel tips, advice and inspiration as well as amazing competitions and exclusive discounts!

Join 17,716 other followers

Copyright notice.

© Bemused Backpacker and the gecko logo is owned and copyrighted by Michael Huxley 2016. Unless stated, all blog and website content is owned and copyrighted by Michael Huxley 2016.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from Michael Huxley is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael Huxley and Bemused Backpacker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector

%d bloggers like this: