Chinese New Year in Singapore
Chinese New Year in Singapore is celebrated annually. Normally, as in the case of Southeast Asia, Chinese New Year is 2 days, but can be extended to 3 days.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore start long before the festival arrives. People purchase gifts, clean and decorate their homes in advance. Public transport services continue to operate throughout the Chinese New Year.
Prior to Chinese New Year
On the days immediately before the New Year celebration, Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There is a Cantonese saying "Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat" (年廿八，洗邋遢), but the practice is not restricted to nin'ya'baat (年廿八, the 28th day of month 12). It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that the newly arrived good luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-frames a new coat of red paint; decorators and paper-hangers do a year-end rush of business prior to Chinese New Year. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing and shoes also symbolize a new start. Any hair cuts need to be completed before the New Year, as cutting hair on New Year is considered bad luck due to the homonymic nature of the word "hair" (fa) and the word for "prosperity". Businesses are expected to pay off all the debts outstanding for the year before the new year eve, extending to debts of gratitude. Thus it is a common practice to send gifts and rice to close business associates, and extended family members.
Eve of Chinese New Year
On the eve of the Chinese New Year, families will eat their reunion dinner which signifies the reunion of the family. Many Singaporean families will have a steamboat dinner for their reunion dinner. Only some stores will be closed likewise those in the HDB blocks and markets. All of them take half-day of Chinese New Year, and the bus lanes continued to operate during the evening peak period; unlike Christmas Eve or New Year's Eve, where they will release early without evening peak hours (New Year's Eve), or following the Saturday style without bus lanes in Christmas Eve. The Electronic Road Pricing operates until 1pm of the eve of public holidays. The Bedok Mall, Westgate, JEM, Tampines 1, City Square Mall, Plaza Singapura, Bugis Junction, Bugis+ and 100AM opens whole day, including JCube, Tampines Mall, Orchard Road, Century Square, Causeway Point and AMK Hub.
Some of them went to the Chinatown for the fireworks ceremony, and the countdown. Firecrackers will therefore be lighted up.
1st day of Chinese New Year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. It is a traditional practice to light fireworks, burn bamboo sticks and firecrackers and to make as much of a din as possible to chase off the evil spirits as encapsulated by nian (年) of which the term guo-nian (过年) was derived. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the days before. On this day, it is considered bad luck to use the broom.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honor one's elders and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents until the evenings. Night events will always be held.
Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Chinese New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash known as lai see or angpow, a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees for good luck, smooth-sailing, good health and wealth. Married couples will give red packets to the children. The red packets signifies blessing from their adults.
2nd day of Chinese New Year
The second day of the Chinese New Year, was when married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends. (Traditionally, married daughters didn't have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.)
Some believe that the second day is also the birthday of all dogs and remember them with special treats. Some of the shops resumes business likewise in Boxing Day.
3rd day of Chinese New Year
The third day of Chinese New Year, resumes business for all of them likewise Christmas and Boxing Day holidays.
After Chinese New Year
The centrepiece of the Chinese New Year festivities in Singapore is the Chingay Parade, a grand carnival-like street parade with dazzling floats, thrilling spectacles like fire-eaters, magicians and sizzling dance acts which takes place on 8th day after the Chinese New Year Day.
Another popular annual Chinese New Year event is the River Hongbao event held on the Marina Bay Floating Platform and the Esplanade Waterfront Promenade on the 15th day after the Chinese New Year Day.
- Welch, Patricia Bjaaland, p. 9.