Tuesday, February 12, 2013

CNY Singapore Style

Welcome to the year of the snake.  I'm not sure what that will mean but I hope it's one of prosperity, joy, health and happiness for everyone.
This isn't my first time in an Asian country so I thought I knew what to expect come this time of year, but it's totally different here in Singapore.  In Korea, it was a time for offering tables to the ancestors, visiting ancestral homes, bowing to your elders, getting money and eating yourself silly (doesn't sound too different from lots of westren holidays I know, minus the bowing and offering tables).  I loved it in Korea but that was because after 8 years of living there, I understood it (as much as a foreigner not living in a Korean home or family can understand it I guess).  I thought it would be pretty much the same in Singapore but from what I gather, it is and it isn't.
Sure, you still make offerings, you still visit family homes and you still eat lots but the young'uns aren't required to bow to their elders in order to receive their hongbao (little red envelopes with money), instead they simply needed to show up with an offering of mandarin oranges (please understand that this is my first Chinese New Year here and I'm sure I'm making sweeping and over simplified generalizations.... but this is my impression from what I've gathered by asking questions and just keeping my eyes open).  There also seems to be much more of an element of celebration to the New Year here.  Each day for the past 4 days, there have been trucks with drums and gongs and other instruments driving around the streets making music and just general noise for a few hours each day.
Then there are the fireworks that take place downtown and the parades and ceremonies in Chinatown.  I didn't get to see that part, I wisely avoided the overly crowded streets and went home.  There is a lot more decoration and colour here as well during this time of year, everyone is dressed up in lucky colours and celebrating with joy and glee.  Here are a few shots of the quieter streets today in Chinatown:

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