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Lunar New Year Part One: A Week in the Life- Preparing for Lunar New Year in Singapore


Happy Lunar New Year 2020! Lunar New will begin on January 25, 2020. This year, we approached several of our intercultural trainers across Asia to understand what the Lunar New Year looks like from their personal perspective. For the first of the series, take a look into how one of CAI’s intercultural facilitators in Singapore, Patricia, spends her time preparing for the important holiday!

Sunday, January 12 – The first step in preparing for the Lunar New Year is: Spring Cleaning! It’s the time of the year when we get rid of old stuff, wipe the shelves in the cupboards, clean the tables and chairs, and mop the floor. The house must be clean to receive new energy.  This year, I’ve got a bigger job for Spring Cleaning because we’re giving the walls and ceiling a new coat of paint! 

Monday, January 13 – Flowers which have stood in the vase and hung on the wall for years are finally taking a bath in soapy water. They’re artificial flowers. I’ve got the red lotus and plum blossoms. Joy fills my heart when the dirty water is poured away, knowing that the flowers bring a clean, new spirit to the house! We visited the nursery for fresh flowers! I had to decide between Tangerines, Azaleas, Chrysanthemum or Lucky Bamboo. They represent growth, strength and ever-blooming prosperity!

Tuesday, January 14 – Painting the entire house took 2 days. We chose pewter for the rooms, natural cane for the living room, and a dramatic red for the piano wall.  After the painting project is complete, we did another round of mopping. Now it feels like we have a new house!

Wednesday, January 15 – Every Lunar New Year, a new door décor goes up. Doors welcome people, therefore, the greeting to every visitor and guest comes from the house. This year, it says “Fu” 福 , which means HAPPINESS!  Usually, the print is in black due to the traditions of calligraphy, but I’m so happy I found one in gold! Good things come in pairs. “8” is the lucky number which symbolizes prosperity. Peonies represent spring, beauty and good fortune.

Thursday, January 16 – Lunar New Year Goodies in Singapore are greatly influenced by the Peranakan Culture and South Chinese culture; hence we have names in various languages (Bahasa Melayu, Cantonese, Hokkien, Putonghua, etc.) My table is just starting to fill up; there is more to come this weekend and next week! Today I found myself dreaming of Pineapple tarts, Love Letters, Kueh Lapis, and Sticky Cake! I bought the basket (shaped like an ancient gold ingot) towards the end of Lunar New Year last year and this year, it will contain all the Mandarin oranges!  As “fruit of the earth,” they represent health and wealth.

Friday, January 17 – As a parent, the biggest role for Lunar New Year is to prepare the red packets.  New notes are to be put in and given to children. It’s a yearly reminder to the young to cherish new beginnings, build and accumulate wealth, save, and as they grow up to be adults, impart the same traditions to the next generation. Children offer two Mandarin oranges and good wishes (usually two sets of 4 words 新年贺词), before receiving the red packets! 

Saturday, January 18 – An intercultural trainer’s desk is always full of materials, tools and crafts.  My Lunar New Year Craft is of the first animal who found the way to the Gate of Heaven and reported to the Jade Emperor—the Rat!

May abundance of blessings and good health be yours. May good luck and prosperity be with you! 

Gong Xi Fa Cai!