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Lion dance in Singapore

Spring Blooms In The Cities

SPRING BLOOMS IN THE CITIES

The scent of fresh blooms lingers in the breeze that passes through the Flower Markets of Hong Kong. A hive of activity and excitement that that lead up to Chinese New Year sees many keeping their eyes trained on the rows of orchids, bougainvillea, fortune bamboos and auspicious golden mandarin plants. 

Flower Markets in Hong Kong

One of the largest festive events, the Chinese New Year 2018 Flower Markets take place the week just before the first day of Chinese New Year. This takes places across the island with the Victoria Park (Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island) and Fa Hui Park (Mongkok, Kowloon).

The Hong Kong International Chinese New Year Night Parade is another highlight in the season’s event calendar. Returning for the 23rd year, an extravagant parade through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon) and along Victoria Harbour will captivate with 10 illuminated floats depicting various icons of Hong Kong, live street performances from around the globe, and a before-and-after-parade party.

Hong Kong International Chinese New Year Night Parade

Besides dressing homes up in red, gold and lucky calligraphy décor, families put in much effort to gather over a painstakingly put together reunion dinner on Chinese New Year Eve. This tradition was passed on through the generations as families started heading to different cities and even countries in search of better fortunes. This helped families stay connected at least annually with a sense of one’s roots.

Common place Chinese New Year food found during reunion meals include the Fatt Choi (prosperity moss), Ho Si (dried oysters which pronounced in Cantonese sounds like ‘good business’), Yu (having fish signifies abundance) and Neen Go (representing continual success year upon year).

Peng Cai at YAN

Two and a half thousand kilometres away in the island of Singapore, varied Curries, usually part of Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures, have found their way to the reunion table. Another dish only found at Singapore reunions is the Yu Sheng (raw fish salad), which according to urban legend, was created by the ‘four heavenly kings’ of Singapore’s restaurant scene in the 1960s. Since then, Chinese restaurants such as Park Café, Mitzo and  Yàn have given it their own twist which makes Yu Sheng a popular must-have during this season, and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch the Lion Dance or Dragon Dance troupe performances at the venues too, welcoming blessings and good luck!  

Yu Sheng at YAN

Similar to Hong Kong, Singapore also hosts the largest street parade over the Chinese New Year season. Chingay, which started in 1973, is  a high energy display of light, sound and performances brings together and celebrates the multicultural society here. It has established itself as a key representation of Singapore society and Chingay 2018 is set to dazzle and amaze with over 6,500  parade performers involving floats, dancers, singers, robots and driverless cars set to a Funtasy theme. 

Chingay in Singapore

Red Envelopes
Red envelopes containing some cash, called Lai See in Hong Kong, and Angpow in Singapore are given out by the more senior generation to those who are younger, and not yet married, to literally give out blessings to other.

Chinese New Year Greetings and Visits
During the 15 days of celebration, families and friends pay visits to each others’ homes to simply catch up and enjoy a time of bonding. Visitors to the home wish the most senior in the household first, then the others, with auspicious phrases. Examples in Mandarin: xin nian kuai le (wishing happiness for the year), shen ti jian kang (wishing good health) and cai yuan guang jing (wishing prosperity and fortune). Children will wish elders by presenting a pair of mandarin oranges (because good things come in pairs) and will receive a red packet in return.

New Clothes
Out with the old and in with the new. This is the season that shopaholics love best! Many households ensure that every family member has a set of new clothes to signify a new beginning. Children often look forward to putting on their new pyjamas the eve of Chinese New Year, and new clothes as they visit family and friends over the next 15 days of festivities.

Fire Crackers
Setting off fire crackers are believed to scare off evil spirits and bad luck by the loud sound it makes. While this can still be experienced in Hong Kong, it can only be found at the Chinese New Year Countdown Party at Chinatown, in Singapore after it was completely banned in 1972 following a spate of fires caused by fire crackers killed and wounded civilians.

Chinese New Year decorations in Singapore

Some popular Chinese New Year traditions and superstitions:

  • No house cleaning on the on the first day of Chinese New Year, or you might just sweep your luck out the door 
  • Try to touch the Lion during the performance, even better luck if you catch the mandarin oranges or sweets it throws out. 
  • The first one who sticks the incense into the incense burner at the temple gets the most luck 
  • Children should sleep past midnight, and as late as possible. The later they sleep, the longer the parents live 
  • All lights should be turned on the eve of Chinese New Year to welcome luck into the house 
  • No scolding is allowed on the first day of Chinese New Year as it is deemed bad luck 
  • The rice jar must be full during the period of Chinese New Year. If not, it forebodes a year of lack. 
  • Pay up. Make every effort to clear debt. Starting the year in the red is a bad omen for the next twelve months.
Orange plants for Chinese New Year

VISITOR INFORMATION

Hong Kong
Victoria Park Flower Market, Causeway Bay
1 Hing Fat Street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
From Park Hotel Hong Kong: 26mins by cab, 22mins by MTR

Fa Hui Park, Mongkok, Kowloon
Southeastern corner of Sham Shui Po District,
Kowloon West in Hong Kong
From Park Hotel Hong Kong: 11mins by cab, 22mins by MTR

2018 Hong Kong International Chinese New Year Night Parade
16 February 2018, 8.00pm to 9.45pm
Parade starts at Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza (Tsim Sha Tsui), and will proceed along Canton Road, Haiphong Road, turning around to Nathan Road and will end at Salisbury Road.

Park Café, Park Hotel Hong Kong,
61 – 65 Chatham Road South,
Tsimshatsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Reservation or Enquiry:+852 2731 2168
WhatsApp: +852 6588 0682 E-mail: parkcafe.phhk@parkhotelgroup.com


Singapore
Chingay 2018
Begins at the F1 Pit building and continues past the Singapore Flyer,
Raffles Avenue to the Marina Bay floating platform.
From Grand Park City Hall: 9mins by cab, 26mins by bus

Mitzo Restaurant & Bar
Level 4 Grand Park Orchard, 
270 Orchard Road Singapore 238857
Tel: +65 6603 8855   Email: rsvn@mitzo.sg

Yàn
#05-02 National Gallery Singapore
1 St. Andrew’s Road Singapore 178957
Tel: +65 63845585 Email: reserve@yan.com.sg

Photo credits (Top to bottom): Bernard Oh, Jellybeanz, www.flatbread.hk, YànYàn, Jamiyah Singapore, Akuppa John Wigham, Choo Yut Shing

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