A happy Lunar New Year to all our Chinese readers!
I recalled when I was a kid, during the Lunar New Year period, I will be super excited. My mum will take me and my sibling to go shopping and we will buy two sets of new clothing (predominantly red) so that we can wear them during the first two days of the Lunar New Year (In Singapore, we get two days off for Lunar New Year. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan get different days off). Occasionally, we even got new shoes as well to go along with the outfit. And sometimes, new bags and carriers. You get the flow.
Well it wasn’t that we didn’t get to have any new clothes throughout the rest of the year. We did, and my mum would sometimes sew them for us (they were so pretty!) and I would get to parade around in my new clothes.
As I grew older, my mum still helped me to buy the clothes sometimes, when I am too busy to go shopping myself. Otherwise, I would also start shopping around after Christmas to continue the tradition of wearing something new during Lunar New Year. However, in subsequent years, it became a more watered down version. Rather than getting two new sets and new shoes as well, I had just gotten one set (for the first day) and wore whatever shoes matches the outfit.
So why is there a general obsession or “need” for new clothes during this period?
Accordingly, it is believed that wearing new clothes from head to toe symbolizes a new start and fresh hopes for the New Year. Chinese believe that New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the year, so everyone tries to dress well. And red is a good luck color, believed to scare away spirits of bad fortune
Also, in the past, people were less well off, and hence Lunar New Year is one of the few occasions during the year where people could look forward to splurge a little, be it new clothes, or food selection.
Although times are different, there are many who still follow this tradition today, and I can appreciate the tradition and cultural aspects of that.
So how did we celebrate our lunar new year?
We did not purchase any new clothing for this occasion. In a nutshell, what we wore during the New Year period wasn’t exactly a new piece, except perhaps for the kids.
For Dave, he hasn’t gotten anything new for many years as far as I could recall. We got two red polo t-shirts for him a couple of years ago. Ever since, that was the same thing he wore every year during this period. Well, he claims that the bright red was a bit too “loud” to be wearing as an everyday outfit so he normally doesn’t wear it the other 364 days. Similarly, for this year, he just recycled the same red shirt.
As for me, I have quite a few red or “bright-coloured” outfits amassed from previous years and simply recycled one of them. To be honest, I doubt any friends or relatives will remember what you wore a year ago. Also, I needed something that would have to be breastfeeding friendly, and luckily I could locate something from my “collection” that fits the bill.
As for Ally, my cousin gifted her a dress which is perfect for the occasion. Otherwise, I would probably just have her wore what she did last year (which she could still fit!)
What about Ashton? Since this is his first Lunar New Year, we should present him in something presentable. Oh yes, he will be presentable. In fact, all of us will be. Not wearing new clothes doesn’t mean that we will look rugged and awful. I dressed him up in a red onesie which looked pretty cute. It wasn’t bought especially for this occasion but it was something that I had gotten prior to his birth. However, since it’s a nice bright red and he wasn’t able to fit into it until recently, I thought I would save it up for him to wear during the Lunar New Year.
We decorated the place minimally. In fact, we didn’t intent to decorate the place as Dave think that we would have to end up trashing them after the occasion and found it environmentally unfriendly (althought there are certain types which could probably be recycled). However, my mother had passed me some decorations last year (for last year’s Lunar New Year – she insisted that we should at least do something at least to symbolise the festive season and since it’s our first Lunar New Year at our new place then) so we ended up recycling those and didn’t get anything new (luckily it didn’t had any zodiac signs on them or it will be at least another 12 years before we could use them :p).
New Year goodies
Dave and I are pretty health conscious (we try to be) so we normally try to avoid eating such stuff as much as possible. Eating bits and bites while visiting is normal but if you have 5 cans of New Year goodies sitting at home, you can bet that we will be the ones who will be finishing it. As such, we only have a tin of pineapple tarts sitting at home this year (plus some chocolates which we had received as gifts over Christmas) which we figured should be sufficient to serve to guests (which we are not expecting many).
This is probably the main draw of the Lunar New Year, where the unmarried members and younger children in the family anticipate receiving the red packets (which contains money) from the married senior members of the family. Our outlay for this portion this year seems to be pretty similar to last year’s (approximately $1,600 – $1800. Dave would probably do a more thorough breakdown for the February monthly update).
Seedly had published a Lunar New Year red packet guide a couple of weeks ago and I think it will be quite interesting to see the deviation from real life (if any). Happened to have a chat with a neighbour about it the other day and she raised some pretty interesting points which could probably warrant a separate post.
Otherwise, it is just the normal visiting of relatives and we were happy to enjoy Lunar New Year as a family. Also, we had separate reunion dinners with both sides of the family and it was a good time to have everyone seated at the same table for a long time. It was also especially meaningful for us as this is also the first Lunar New Year for Ashton.
How was your Lunar New Year? How did you celebrate it?