Chinese New Year is a time for families and friends to get together to rekindle and strengthen their relationships. In previous decades, or should I say centuries ago, this was an important period because people lived far from each other, and means of communication was harder than it is today. These days, especially in Singapore, you will find more and more people who do not put much significance on celebrating Chinese New Year anymore. I’m sure we all know people who prefer to travel overseas during Chinese New Year, or some simply just stay at home. To put a positive angle on it, it’s probably because it’s so easy to connect with friends and relatives these days, with social media and all, not to mention that all corners of Singapore is reachable within an hour or so.
But still, here are 5 activities we should still try to do. Think of it not as a burdensome tradition to be followed year after year, but activities that are actually fun in their own right. In years to come, these will be memories to cherish.
Having steamboat at home for reunion dinner
Have you tried doing a steamboat at home? I must confess that I have never done so at home! I have attended several steamboat reunion sessions held at other relatives’ houses, but never my own. And this year, I will actually be having steamboat at home, for the 1st time ever! Even more amazing is that it was the Partner who bought the hotplate and came up with the idea, and he’s not even Chinese! I’m really looking forward to buying up a storm at the supermarkets and our favourite meat grocers. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge a bit and eat out at a restaurant. We are going to have a small steamboat session with immediate family, followed by reunion dinner at a restaurant with the extended family!
Setting up Chinese New Year Decorations
Get your creative juices flowing by helping your parents to put up the Chinese New Year decorations this year. I don’t know about you but I pay so much attention to decorating my house for Christmas, getting the Christmas tree and all, but I totally leave it to my parents to put up the CNY decor. That shouldn’t be the case. And as with all things, even Chinese New Year decorations can now be purchased online (sponsored link), if you don’t wish to go to Chinatown. They could be in the form of wall stickers, lanterns, or artificial flowers! Some people even go to lengths throwing out their old furniture and getting new ones!
Or if you have the time, try making your own CNY decorations (sponsored link)! That would be a great bonding activity with the kids, or perhaps something for the kids to do to keep them off your feet while you set up the actual decorations?
Instead of buying Chinese New Year cookies, why not make your own? Be careful of cheap Chinese New Year goodies, if you read the ingredient list, you will often find all sorts of unnecessary ingredients used, just so that costs can be lowered. A classic example is using palm oil, or hydrogenated fat/margarine instead of butter! It is almost guaranteed (no matter how lousy a baker you are) that whatever you bake will taste better than the generic store bought ones, simply because you will be using good ingredients! Home-made goodies make great gifts too, and the cost price of the raw ingredients are probably cheaper than the store bought goodies. Here’s a list of places to get cheap baking ingredients.
Speaking of Chinatown, you must visit it at least once a year just before Chinese New Year. I assure you the atmosphere is ELECTRIC! Even if you don’t buy anything, squeezing through the crowd and looking at the latest CNY snacks in town would be quite eventful in itself. Don’t forget to go past the jelly stores, you’ll not miss it because they are in the heart of the Chinatown CNY Bazaar. They are very generous with their samples. I know, because I often eat like 3 or 4 (or more!) before I make my purchase! Here’s an article on what to see at the Chinatown CNY Bazaar.
Ah, spring cleaning, so necessary but so dreaded. If you’re a procrastinator like me, it is only done in the last few days before Chinese New Year! But actually, it can be a fun family activity too. For example, if you have kids, make them compete with each other on who can clean the largest amount of area the fastest! Or reward the family with a dinner out, once X number of rooms have been cleaned. I used to LOVE washing the kitchen when I was younger. We’d move any wooden furniture to higher ground, and I’d just hose the entire kitchen down. It was SO FUN! Of course it helped that my kitchen was a step lower than the living room, so the water was contained. But the point is, fun can be found anywhere if you look for it.
Well? Make the most of this festive period and HUAT AH!