As I type this I have the Gong Xi Gong Xi song ringing over and over in my head like a broken record. Does the younger generation even know what a broken record is?? Each year, for a few weeks before Chinese New Year the Gong Xi song plays EVERYWHERE. ALL THE TIME. Different voices. Different styles. Different arrangements. Instrumental. But the same song over and over and over and over. And I’m just shopping in these places. I cannot imagine working there and having to listen to it for my whole shift. I must say, though, that Anna and I have been known to dance to it in the grocery store aisles. Why fight it, eh?
Anyway, mostly Chinese New Year in Singapore is awesome! Everything red! Everything decorated! Way more than Christmas or any other holiday here. It really is beautiful. I guess it’s one time when the affluence of this city state pays off. It’s all really nice until you have to walk through the smoke of the burning offerings and have to pay extra for just about everything. During a holiday in the US everything goes on sale, here everything gets more expensive. And yes, people still buy it.
A few observations and CNY happenings that I don’t think I’ve written about before.
1) Many Chinese families get rid of old things to replace with new. Sort of like taking out the bad luck from last year and bringing in good luck. Luck is the end all be all in the Chinese culture. The old stuff congregates down in the car park basement. If you’re not superstitious, it’s a great time for what we call dumpster divin’.
2) It’s the biggest waste of oranges ever! Oranges are given out in pairs. Or displayed on cash registers or store fronts. Orange represents the color of gold and of course, prosperity.
3) More people buy their holiday goodies than make them. They stand in LONG lines for Bak Kwa (sort of like greasy beef jerky’d pork), pineapple tarts, cornflake cookies, prawn rolls, love letters, etc. It’s a racket and the bakeries are making a mint! Although I did make my holiday goodies to give away. I made my version of cornflake cookies and Mexican salsa to give our neighbors. It is red, afterall. I did buy the chips to go with the salsa.
So if you decorate everything in red, get rid of old, spend a lot of money on the new and buy or make holiday treats and buy and waste a bunch of oranges, you are sure to have good luck and prosper in the coming year.
Last year, Chinese New Year fell on our weekly date night. Here’s that post. It’s always so much fun to look back. This post made me giggle. It was quite a lonely experience and very different from this year’s outing.
This year we went to TGIF on Orchard Road to have dinner with friends who were in from Vietnam. It was not lonely. There were actually people out and a few stores open. Although a lot was still closed, we had plenty to do and a fun family night out. In the course of our dinner at TGIF’s, the manager came out and put a $100 bill in a red envelope. In the spirit of CNY and all things good luck, he let the kids draw, several times. No one got the $100 but they got meal vouchers and Anna even got a voucher for Malones, a local pub, for a beer tasting which Tommy used after dinner while I enjoyed an $18 margarita. It makes it easier to stomach paying $18 for a small margarita when the beer is free. Anna went upstairs and got her a Starbucks drink and joined us in the pub. 2012 Best Parent Award comin’ our way! Hey, she looks like an adult here so no one gave us a second glance.
We parked in an empty mall parking garage, drove on very peaceful and uncrowded roads. It was a little eerie but very nice!
So here are all the photos to illustrate this post. Enjoy! (I don’t have pictures of oranges, though. I tossed the ones that our condo mgmt gave us. ooops! Bad luck for us. I suppose I’ll just continue to rely on Jesus’ eternal gift of love, grace and mercy.)
Oh, I guess I should mention that this is the year of the Water Dragon. And another observation is that I have way too many smiley faces in this post. I suppose CNY just makes me smile.
Chinese New Year 2010. And the posts for 2011 are linked above throughout this post.
Btw, Gong Xi Fa Cai are not curse words. I have no idea how it’s really pronoucned but I seem to remember a trusted source telling me that it is translated to mean “Congratulations and Prosperity”. I’m sure that my Singaporean friends who read this will correct me if I’m wrong. (yep, another smiley face)
Happy Lunar New Year!