Even though 2018 is fast approaching, I know it never feels like THE NEW YEAR for me till Chinese New Year is done and dusted. Also known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, Singaporeans typically celebrate Chinese New Year in Singapore with endless feasting and catching up with the relatives after a year of the daily grind.
In 2018, the first day of Chinese New Year falls on the 16 February, Friday, which means a long weekend worth of eating and spending time with the family! Chinese New Year 2018 is also known as the Year of the Dog so we can see some really cute decorations and red packets design around.
CHINESE NEW YEAR FUN FACTS
Seeing some relatives, cousins and even friends, once a year can either make for a lot of catching up to do, or a plenty of small talk. I’ve done my research for all you socially awkward people out there - here are four fun facts about Chinese New Year that you’ve probably never heard of before. Hopefully it’ll help you break the ice with your distant relatives this coming Chinese New Year 2018!
1. Singapore isn’t the only country to celebrate Chinese New Year (duh). But how many people actually celebrate it? The total number might shock you. Chinese New Year is actually celebrated by almost a quarter of the world’s population! To put it into context, we recently reached a population of a whopping 7 billion.
For students in China, Chinese New Year is as important as Christmas in the Western countries. Schools in China get about a month off homework and classes, and university students get an even longer break! It might surprise you, but even citizens of Brunei get a one day public holiday in lieu of the Chinese New Year festival.
2. Apparently, going visiting on the 5th day of Chinese New Year is considered bad luck.The fifth day of the Chinese New Year is called ‘Po Wu’, according to China.org. We, the Chinese, are expected to remain at home to welcome the God of Wealth instead of going to visit our family and friends. Visiting and the usual festivities can then resume on the sixth and seventh day.
3. Staying up the whole night after your reunion dinner might just help your parents live a little longer. This 守岁 tradition is quickly being abandoned by the younger generations. Legend has it that a fierce monster named ‘Nian’ will come to attack people and their livestock on the eve of Chinese New Year. In order to prevent this and avoid an attack by ‘Nian’, the villagers would stay up the whole night. It is believed that if the younger generation stays up the whole night, their parents will have longevity. True or not? Better safe than sorry, I say.
4. Wearing new shoes help you pave the path of a smoother year ahead. It is said that wearing new shoes help you stomp out the "little people" around who might cause harm or make things difficult for you. So with these people out of your way, you will have a more successful and smoother year ahead!
CHINESE NEW YEAR 2018 CALLS FOR… NEW CLOTHES
Being dressed in new clothes will make your visitations much more pleasant, trust me. Get something that hides your flaws and highlights your strengths! No more pesky distant relatives telling you that you’ve gained weight over the past year (oops!).
Some websites that you can check out for great Chinese New Year appropriate clothes include Zalora and Lazada. I’ve personally used Zalora for many a Chinese New Year outfit. What I love about Zalora is that they have specific picks for Chinese New Year appropriate outfits! Yup, they MOSTLY come in different shades of red. You might think that it’ll leave you looking like a walking ang pao, but their stylish designs are subtle enough to leave you looking elegant and classy instead of tacky and extra.
If you’re looking to get your Chinese New Year 2018 clothes online, do remember to start looking early. Many will be trawling through the site for the best deals and discounts as early as the start of January, so its best to get clicking fast!
P.S. Check out some of the amazing promos and sales for Zalora and Lazada on Cardable. You might be able to score an extra sweet deal or discount for less with one of the coupon codes this Chinese New Year 2018.
BEST CHINESE NEW YEAR GOODIES, AND WHERE TO GET THEM
Okay, the festivities and feasting might seriously derail that healthy diet that you’ve been meaning to get started on. But the Chinese New Year goodies are SO worth it! Please do yourself a favour and eat a little of everything - in moderation, of course.
Here are some of the best Chinese New Year goodies that you just HAVE to get a taste of this 2018 Chinese New Year. I’ve also included places where you can get the best of these goodies. No wasting of calories here!
Ah, my favourite. Buttery pastry with sweet, sticky filling makes for an addictive snack that you can continually pop into your mouth while watching television.
While I personally feel that my aunt makes the best homemade pineapple tarts (no preservatives!), it can be really time consuming and labour intensive to start from scratch. No matter, the ones that you get outside are pretty bomb as well.
My favourite are the ones at Joyous Pastries that taste rather ‘homemade’. After all, they use only the finest ingredients to make their pineapple fillings. By the way, their pineapple fillings are homemade and not those that you’d find mass-made industrially! They also do not use preservatives or colouring, which makes for a slightly healthier treat. The box of pineapple tarts goes is going for $21 for 20+ pieces.
Alternatively, check out Bakerzin's award-winning pineapple tarts that come in a variety of interesting flavors like hae bee hiam, chrysanthemum and even XO Golden Pillow that's generously filled with pineapple fibres and wolfberries pre-soaked for up to a month in premium XO liquor.
Bak kwa, also known as rou gan, is classic Chinese New Year food. The stalls selling this Chinese salty-sweet dried meat product are mostly empty the rest of the year. But come the period before Chinese New Year, the queues are insane!
Here’s a stall that continually gets queues that can last for HOURS: Lim Chee Guan. Make your long wait worthwhile with some bak kwa from this all-time-favourite stall. Year after year, the queue at their Chinatown outlet stretch for streets. The ridiculously long queue was even reported in The Straits’ Times some years back. The Bak Kwa at Lim Chee Guan retails at S$54/kg.
The kids’ choice, this light and crispy snack is super fragrant and perfect for a lighter snack compared to the heavier treats that adorn the table of goodies. A perfect love letter is hard to find. The worst is when you excitedly open the tin of love letters and… they’ve gone stale.
Here’s a place where you can get fresh love letters that retain their crunch long after the guests have gone home: Lavender Confectionery and Bakery. With a few branches throughout Singapore, its even easier to get access to these treats! This family-owned company also has a few dining concepts around JB and KL. Their traditional love letters are made over a charcoal stove, that give it an extra crispy bite. So what makes their love letters stand out from the crowd? They don’t go stale, because they’ve already been prepacked into small packages that contain six love letters per packet. This means you can feel less guilty about accidentally leaving that tin open - the quality of the other love letters will be kept intact.
On a diet? Check out this really cute Chinese New Year Goodies Bracelet from Zilingo!
THE SPIRIT OF CHINESE NEW YEAR
Although we’ve highlighted two exciting parts of Chinese New Year - the new clothes and the goodies, do remember to have a good catch-up with your family and friends as well. That’s what Chinese New Year is all about after all. Enjoy the festivities and gong xi fa cai!
We know that there is much to prepare for for Chinese New Year, so do stay tuned as we update this article with the best Chinese New Year promotions we can find to help you get the best deals on new clothes, new shoes, Chinese New Year goodies, spring-cleaning help and more!