The annual 15-day Chinese New Year (CNY) festival – also known as the Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival – in effect lasts for 16 days starting with the Reunion Dinner on New Year’s Eve and ending at the Lantern Festival.
This festival has its roots in agricultural China, but has spread all over the world with the various diasporas who have adapted to local circumstances such as those in tropical Singapore.
The Chinese Zodiac has a 60-year cycle with 12 different animals and five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) with 2021 ushering in the Year of the Metal Ox. Mythology has it that the 12 animals vied for position on the calendar so the Jade Emperor decreed their placement would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked him into giving him a ride. As they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, making Rat first and Ox the second.
The personality traits of people born in the year of the Ox are honesty, earnestness and a tendency to be low key, preferring to gain recognition through their hard work, rather than seeking attention and credit. They rarely lose their temper, think logically and make strong leaders. According to astrologers, the Ox denotes the hard work, positivity and honesty that will be manifested in all of us in the coming 12 months.
Chinese New Year Singapore and The Year of The Ox
CNY is a time of new beginnings, loaded with traditions centred on family, friends, and food. Here are a few of the many.
A few days before the celebrations, Chinese families give their homes a thorough clean to sweep away all the accumulated bad luck of the preceding year, thus clearing the space for the good fortune of the upcoming year.
While you may be eager to wave in new luck for 2021, be mindful of a few taboos. Cleaning on the first day of the new year is a no-no because that will sweep away your newly arrived good luck. Also on the first day, avoid taking a bath, having a haircut, or doing laundry, because all of those activities will wash away your accumulated good luck. Having a haircut is especially taboo because hair in Chinese is pronounced “fa”, which means prosperity. Having a haircut would symbolise losing money. Something nobody can afford to do!
Like most celebrations, decorations are important to CNY and laden with meaning. Families hang banners, pictures and place objects in red and gold around their homes to signify happiness, good luck and prosperity. You’ll also find lucky plants with fruit or flowers in red or gold, goldfish (abundance), pineapples (wealth & fortune), and written couplets with auspicious meanings.
You can learn more about Chinese New Year Singapore traditions on a Chinatown tour.
Gong Xi Fa Cai 2021