HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR! GONG XI FA CAI!
The 15 day celebration was from Feb 10th to Feb 24th this year. This was the first new year I was away from my family and although I felt homesick initially, my Singaporean friends and colleagues helped me overcome any nostalgia by welcoming me into their families and festivities. Come slither with me as I recount a special new year in Singapore that I will never forget…
The night before the 1st day is the reunion dinner (‘tuan yuan fan’). My teacher buddy, Shu Zhen, invited me over to celebrate with her family.
We had a hot pot dinner (what they call steamboat here) along with two dishes symbolizing prosperity that were completely new to me.
The first one is pen cai (top dish); it consists of a basin filled with layers of ingredients (e.g., prawns, abalone, pork belly, mushrooms, sea cucumber, black fungus) in gravy. It was SO good! I need to tell my mom to prepare this next year.
The second dish is yusheng/lo hei (bottom dish); you put ingredients such as fish, oil, lime juice, pomelo, flour crisps, plum sauce, sesame seeds, and peanuts on top of shredded vegetables while saying auspicious things. Then, everyone tosses the ingredients up high with chopsticks while saying auspicious wishes for the new year. The higher the toss, the more luck you’ll receive. Some people even try to make it stick to the ceiling! It is done before the main meal and is meant to be an appetizer. Lo Hei is unique to Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, but I am going to bring this tradition back to the US to do with my family next year. I got the chance to participate in Lo Hei 5 times and each time was extremely exciting and joyful. Thanks, Shu Zhen, Greenridge Primary, AST, and Tao Nan School for introducing me to this! 🙂
After the reunion dinner, I had to rush home to do my spring cleaning in order to get rid of the bad luck from the previous year and to welcome in good luck for the new year. On my way home, there were a ton of people at the Buddhist temple lining up to pray for good luck for the new year. I didn’t quite finish before midnight (hopefully this doesn’t affect my luck for this year), but I did put up the ‘fu’ (‘luck) character upside down on my apt. door so that good luck could arrive. Isn’t it cute with all the cartoon zodiac animals?
Shu Zhen’s family was nice enough to invite me back for dinner (more food!) on the 1st night. Here are pictures of me with her grandpa and Jamie:
I wandered the streets of Chinatown with Belinda, my flatmate, to experience the Chinese New Year madness. Check it out!
I also got a chance to see the River Hongbao Festival at The Float at Marina Bay. They truly put a lot of work into the decorations on the floating platform and the performances. This was the first time I saw a Chinese face mask changing dance; the performers are able to change their masks multiple times and so quickly that you can’t catch how they do it. My recording didn’t come out so good, but you gotta check out this art on YouTube:
Here are some pictures of my favorite aspects at the festival:
Last, but not least, Chinese New Year is a time for everything good – good company, good food, good luck, and good times. The non-stop eating and celebrations continued. These are the random shots:
I hope you enjoyed my Chinese New Year posting. So sad that the 15 days are over and I’m no longer waking up to the strong smell of incense coming from the temple nearby and the sound of firecrackers on the busy and bustling streets of Bugis. On a positive note, I can finally start to burn off all the calories I consumed (I’m pretty sure I gained a good 5 pounds from all the eating) and only occasionally snack on the leftover Chinese New Year’s treats everyone still has at their desks. 🙂