Chinese New Year 2014, Day -1

Well folks, I’ve been a little MIA in the blog world lately (although slowly working my way through my back-logged Feedly, see constant updates on Twitter!).  I’ve been teaching a lot, developing some new RWH programming, and – of course – preparing for what is easily the most important and widely celebrated holiday in Singapore: Chinese New Year.

Today (Thursday, Jan. 30) is the eve of the New Year in the Lunar Calendar.  So, in addition to the usual weekly activities, the last few days have been filled with…

1. Washing ALL THE RED THINGS:

In Chinese culture, RED is associated with good fortune.  Good fortune is pursued vigorously during the New Year celebrations, as you'll see over the next few days.

In Chinese culture, RED is associated with good fortune. Good fortune is pursued vigorously during the New Year celebrations, as you’ll see over the next few days.

2. Filling ang bao packets:

'Ang bao' (literally, 'red packets') are filled with money and given to younger relatives, single relatives, retired relatives, and parents...or some combination of those folks, depending on exactly who you ask. Basically, Chinese New Year is an expensive time to be a young, married, working adult.

‘Ang bao’ (literally, ‘red packets’) are filled with money and given to younger relatives, single relatives, retired relatives, and parents…or some combination of those folks, depending on exactly who you ask. Basically, Chinese New Year is an expensive time to be a young, married, working adult.

3. Acquiring plenty of Mandarin Oranges:

Just a small part of our collection.  We spend the Lunar New Year season giving and accepting Mandarin Oranges - passing someone two Mandarins symbolizes wishing them prosperity and good fortune for the new year.

Just a small part of our collection. We spend the Lunar New Year season giving and accepting Mandarin Oranges – passing someone two Mandarins symbolizes wishing them prosperity and good fortune for the new year.

I don’t want to repeat things that I’ve already shared, so if you want to know a bit more about  other preparations (including the pre-new-year cleaning), check out my Chinese New Year Preparations! post from last year.

With all of that, and our last bits of work for the Year of the Snake, completed, KMN and I got cleaned up and headed over to his parents’ house:

CNYEve2014

Don’t ask me why he isn’t wearing red…

There, we met with some of his close family for Reunion Dinner.  We started off with the tradition Yusheng (my first of the Lunar New Year season!):

Yusheng is a special good-luck salad eaten during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

Yusheng is a special good-luck salad eaten during the Lunar New Year celebrations.

You can read all about the components and symbolism of Yusheng in my Chinese New Year Day -1 post from last year.

After Yusheng, we enjoyed a tasty dinner before heading back home.  And now, it’s time to get some sleep – Lunar New Year celebrations extend for about two weeks, but the first day is definitely the busiest.  We have lots of family to visit tomorrow!!  So for now, I’ll leave you all with a very hearty:

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

What’s on your schedule for today?
[This is such a festive, celebratory period that it’s hard for me to remember that it’s still business as usual for you folks in the West! So remind me!!!]

Any pressing questions about Chinese New Year?

27 thoughts on “Chinese New Year 2014, Day -1

  1. Sophie @ life's philosophie

    Gong Xi Fa Chai!! I wish SO badly I were home so I could see all the beautiful red decorations and dragon dances! I’m a snake and I didn’t feel like the year of the snake went that well (I guess that’s what happens when it’s a snake year…) so I’m really excited for the horse!

    Reply
  2. Char

    My son headed out last night to Brisbane’s ‘Asian’ suburb of Sunnybank to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve. That’s one of the added bonuses to having a Taiwanese girlfriend – you get two New Year’s Eves a year.

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      And…two New Year’s Days, too! Anything that didn’t get swept up in my 2014 “New Year” plans, or that already derailed, can be brought back on track for the LUNAR New Year – what a great system! Wonder if we could get a “new year” every month…? 🙂

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Hahaha! So I guess they wouldn’t be the right ones to send with the Mandarins to pass to the elders of the house we’re visiting: “NOOO! MY oranges!” 🙂

      Thankfully, they’re sold by the box around the island at this time of year, so there would be plenty of stock! And eating them is good luck too, so they could go to town. 🙂

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      I must admit, Michelle, I’m not a huge abalone fan. *ducks* I know that’s not very Chinese of me, but I find it mostly…chewy, and certainly not worth the money, no matter how much good fortune/luck it is supposed to bring me! So I generally pass (shh! Don’t tell the aunties!). 🙂

      Reply
  3. Cait the Arty Runnerchick

    i’m LOVING having Holly rock the Twitter world! seriously, u’re learning curve is stellar, in your few first days i think u outpaced my prowess of that twit bird, no joke! i’ll need to bug you for tips and all that good stuff.
    yay for Chinese New Year!! my dad is half Chinese-Hawaiian so my family certainly celebrates…i wish i’d have the opportunity to make it over there one year for the celebration tho!! enjoy it double for me too please!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Ha – everything I know, I learned from you all. 😉

      Best part of being here for Chinese New Year? All the tasty treats! I’ll bet the Hawaiian influence results in some unique deliciousness. Any special dishes?

      Reply
  4. Stephanie@nowirun.com

    Business as usual ~ except that last week wasn’t usual at all b/c of work and kids!
    🙂
    Your salad looks like it has some kind of raw fish or meat on it. Hm. I’m not sure if I could do that (I had sushi once because Ellie took me and helped me pick it out).

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Ah! Very astute observation. It does, indeed, have raw fish – usually sushi-grade salmon. And we generally buy the salad pre-assembled, so there are no fish-purchase decisions that have to be made. 🙂

      The word for ‘fish’ (yusheng, actually) is a homophobe for the word ‘abundance’ in Mandarin (sounds the same; written with a different character), so serving fish symbolizes wishing your your guests abundance in the new year!

      Reply
  5. Kristen @ Happy Running Mama

    I love reading about the Chinese New Year and all that it entails. I know it is such a major holiday but really didn’t know any of the details other than something about the color red. 🙂 Now I’m going to go check out your older posts so I can read more about it. Thanks for sharing, Holly!! And Happy New Year!

    Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      Thanks, Kristen! One of the cool side benefits of living here (and being in a inter-ethnic/cultural marriage) is sharing some of the lesser-known holidays/traditions/customs that I get to experience. I know some of the larger cities in the US have Lunar New Year celebrations, but I think it would be hard to appreciate the holiday to its fullest without being in Asia. And Singapore actually experiences a “light” version of the New Year celebrations – in China, things shut down for two whole weeks while people return to the cities/villages where they were raised to celebrate with family.

      Reply
    1. Holly @ Run With Holly Post author

      DEFINITELY family-focused. In fact, I had an interesting conversation with someone while we were visiting (Visit #3, I think – see new post!) about the place of family in Singapore vs. US – and I’m working on a more reflective post that sprung from this chat. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Meagan

    I am also working through a back logged Feedly! Hope y’all enjoyed the Chinese New Year festivities! I guess they’re wrapping up by now? Id’ be all over the mandarin oranges! In fact, I have a small crate of them on the kitchen counter right now. I was celebrating without knowing it.

    Reply

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