Chinese New Year Survival Guide

Abrand new year in the Chinese lunar calendar is upon us. As we usher in the Year of the Monkey with merrymaking and lots of good food, here are a few tips to help you tide through the busy celebratory days ahead.


1. For the hosts with the most to prepare

With Singapore’s hectic pace of life, it is not surprising to hear of friends who begin their Chinese New Year shopping at the last minute. If the thought of heading down to crowded Chinatown to stock up on CNY goodies sounds daunting to you, then just head down to the nearest supermarket where you can find ready-to-eat CNY goodies to feed your visitors.

Otherwise, call the caterers, and voila! Problem solved!

2. For the singles who aren’t quite ready to mingle

We all know the chances of relatives asking you if you have gotten a girlfriend or boyfriend are quite high. After all, what better way is there for doting adults to juggle small talk and tease you simultaneously?

If you really can’t take another dose of the same probing questions, we would recommend turning the situation around by asking random questions like, “What’s your zodiac sign, by the way, Uncle?” or “Aunty, do you have more pineapple tarts?”.

Hopefully, you won’t have to resort to showing them a random Instagram photo of you and a friend of the opposite gender.

3. For couples who haven’t tied the knot

Alright, we admit it – you guys have it worse than the singles.

Just when you thought you could finally show off your partner to the folks, you are bombarded with questions about when you are going to tie the knot.

But because of our uniquely Singaporean way of proposing by applying for an HDB flat, shift the conversation to anything except the topic of HDB flats. Your relatives will still have much to say, but perhaps some of that advice may just come in handy one day.

4. Newly married with no kids

Ok, so you’ve finally gotten married. You’re relieved that the incessant questions are over. But, are they really over?

Be prepared for the next phase of intensive questioning – when are the babies coming along? Don’t you want to have a little kid just like your cousin and his wife? As much as we wish for Singapore’s total fertility rate to be higher, we can empathise with your plight. Our only advice is, don’t forget to prepare the hongbaos – you’ll have to give them out from now on, remember? Well, then there are those who avoid the questioning and hongbaos by going on a holiday…

5. For the studious ones

We all know that feeling. You can’t help but partake in the revelry of Chinese New Year even as you try not to think about the backlog of homework your teacher has given you. If you want to avoid facing your teacher’s impending displeasure come Wednesday, we suggest getting your work done by Sunday afternoon.

At least then, the thought of a wholesome reunion dinner later that evening might be motivation enough.


6. For non-Chinese Singaporeans

For those of us who won’t be spending the majority of our time visiting friends or relatives, the Chinese New Year holidays can make for a boring couple of days. Most shops are closed for the holidays even if we want to hit the streets.

Fret not! Consider catching the latest blockbuster hits at cinemas, take a stroll with friends at our UNESCO World Heritage Site – Singapore Botanic Gardens, or if you are staying near Changi Airport, head down to its eateries for some good food and a spot of plane-spotting.

7. For the fitness buffs and the health-conscious

Chinese New Year, just like any other festive period, brings with it an annual dietary challenge. Here’s how you can cut the calories and opt for healthier food choices that will leave you feeling a bit less guilty by the end of the holidays.

  • Afraid of offending your hospitable hosts or your favourite aunty by not eating the CNY delicacies presented to you? Make a beeline for the mandarin oranges. It doesn’t hurt to load up on vitamin C! Eat in moderation though as mandarin oranges are high in natural sugar (fructose). You could also pick up a handful of pumpkin seeds and then take your time to pop each into your mouth. They are a good source of mineral nutrients, antioxidants and protein, but don’t overeat them as they are high in calories.
  • Drink water, lots of it, or have a healthy snack like a banana or a bowl of high-fiber cereal before heading out to visit relatives and friends! That will satiate your appetite for a while, and water helps digestion too! So when you’re presented with a tray of pineapple tarts, you will be more likely to say, “Hmm, I’m full, thank you.”

8. For those who have to work during CNY

Here’s a shout out to all those who have to work over the Chinese New Year holidays, including our uniformed personnel who defend the nation round the clock. Do take comfort that there are many more long weekends coming up in 2016.

As the Chinese saying goes, “先苦后甜”(suffer first, enjoy later).

9. Save Our Sharks (SOS)

As much as this is a survival guide for humans, do spare a thought this Chinese New Year for declining shark populations.

Even though a growing number of hotels and restaurants are removing sharks’ fin soup from their menus, just say no if you are served a bowl, no matter how tempting it is! Once the consumption stops, the killing will too.


Written by WP Newsdesk volunteers ~