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Chinese New Year Traditions

By Tammy Kong on 25/01/2022

Chinese New Year Traditions

Lion Dance

Lions play an important role in Chinese mythology. The traditional lion dance, which commemorates a legend where villagers in China donned a costume made of cloth and straw, accompanied by the loud beating of pots and pans, to scare away a monster named Nian (年) that would destroy the crops and animals of farmers on the eve of every Chinese New Year. Lion dances are performed accompanied by the beat of drums, cymbals, and gongs instruments synchronizing to the lion dance movements and actions.

From then on, lion dances have become a yearly tradition to frighten evil away and bring luck and happiness during the Chinese New Year. Now lion dances are also usually performed at many other important grand occasions, including Chinese traditional, cultural and religious festivals, business opening events, birthday celebrations, honor guest welcoming and wedding ceremonies by the Chinese communities.

In pre-war Singapore, it was common for these lions to perform a feat that required them to scale “human towers” to pluck the greens from a 100-foot-high window of a six- or seven-story building. Imagine that!

Chinese New Year’s Eve vigil

Children are encouraged to stay awake past midnight to send off the “old” year and welcome the “new”. This is called “surviving the Nian (year)”. This is also due to the monster Nian, hence people closed their doors before dusk and stayed up on New Year Eve to avoid encounters with the beast. In order to kill time, family reunion and conversation have the meaning of praying for a safe night. After a long time, the custom of staying up for New Year’s Eve has been formed.

Many children also do this to convey their new year wishes to their parents early in the morning. Some Chinese believe that the longer the children stay awake, the longer their lives or the lives of their parents. In return, the young ones get a hongbao – traditional red packets containing money – before going to bed.

Cash deposits

In recent years, some Singaporeans have adopted the practice of depositing cash into their own bank accounts on the auspicious day of Li Chun (which marks the start of spring in the Chinese calendar). They believe that this will boost one’s wealth and ensure good luck. Some wear auspicious colors and prepare a particular sum of money to deposit for extra luck.

According to Seedly Blog, the most auspicious hours to deposit money will be on 4 February 2022, from 3pm to 5pm. This is for all the zodiacs, except Tiger, Horse, Goat and Dog.