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Eye of the Tiger!

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

✦ Celebrations for 2022 are not over yet… Not with Lunar New Year on its way!


Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Year of the Water Tiger. CNY 2022

It is the biggest, most auspicious date in the Chinese calendar, a time when record numbers of human migration is witnessed and prosperity and luck for the year ahead is welcomed with a myriad of customs.


Come the 1st of February 2022, millions of people around the world will be celebrating a new year - the Lunar New Year.


Just what is the Lunar New Year, who celebrates it, why is it the Year of the Water Tiger, and how is technology remaking old traditions in today’s pandemic times?


Let's start with Lunar New Year 101 kept simple so you can focus on enjoying the festivities!





Lunar New Year 101


The Lunar New Year is a 15-day festival to celebrate the start of a new year in the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Also known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, this celebration marks the end of winter and the beginning of the spring season. Each year, the first day of the Lunar New Year will be based on the new moon that will appear between 21 January and 20 February. For 2022, Lunar New Year will be on February 1, 2022.


Some interesting Did You Know points to perk up dinner conversations:

  • Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC

  • A complete cycle takes 60 years, divided into 12 year elements

  • Each of these 12 years is named after an animal favoured by the Buddha

  • The year you were born in is said to influence your personality

(source: BBC)


Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Chinese zodiac

Every year an animal is assigned to the year ahead as per the Chinese zodiac, or Sheng Xiao, which is a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs and their ascribed attributes, based on the lunar calendar. In order, the zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.


This year’s animal in the Chinese zodiac will be the Tiger, an animal known for its power, fearlessness and passion.




At Brilliant-Online, while we may not be fortune tellers, we are looking ahead to the year with a confident roar! We envisage a fierce year ahead that can turn inevitable challenges into invaluable opportunities.


For those who are interested in knowing what the Tiger year may bring, watch this video here:



The Lunar New Year is celebrated by people in the Greater China region (China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau), Brunei, Indonesia (Imlek), Korea (Seollal), Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam (Tết Nguyên Đán), and Suriname in South America.


Common greetings for the Chinese are:

  • Happy New Year 新年快乐

  • Happy New Spring 新春快乐

  • Gong Xi Fa Cai / Kong Hee Fatt Choy (wishing you happiness and prosperity) 恭喜发财


Bon Appetit!


There are a myriad of customs and traditions around the Lunar New Year period that have been practised for generations, in addition to an array of superstitions and myths that are respected to ensure good fortune in the coming year.


In a similar vein to Christmas and New Year festivities in the west, huge significance is placed on the value of families convening and celebrating on Chinese New Year’s Eve, typically over a reunion dinner with pork, fish, dumplings, sticky rice cake, spring rolls and other traditional dishes that make up the usual staple items on the menu. Some of these foods have a special significance, and eating them is believed to bring good luck!


If you are planning to put together your very own reunion dinner, why not check out these recipes.


Recipes


Note: Checkout with BRILLIANT15 for 15% discount on My Blue Tea Online Store for non-sales items.


Yu Sheng Lo Hei Toss for Good Luck Recipe: https://www.brilliant-online.com/post/tossing-for-fortune



Tidy Up!


Prior to the reunion dinner and family arriving en masse, houses are thoroughly cleaned and prepared prior to the gathering to symbolise the riddance of any bad luck and to make way for incoming good fortune.


However, people are extra cautious not to clean on New Year’s day as it could mean sweeping away any good luck that had just been brought into the house. That's a brilliant reason not to do any housework that day! It is a day of festivities after all!


Fire Away!


Fireworks, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Fireworks and firecrackers are ubiquitous during the Lunar New Year period

Given that fireworks were invented by the Chinese, it comes as no great surprise to learn that they play a major role in Lunar New Year celebrations.


Fireworks and firecrackers are ubiquitous during the Lunar New Year period, designed to welcome the New Year and ward off any evil spirits simultaneously. They are set off immediately as New Year arrives and it is believed that the louder the firecrackers are means the more luck that will be coming in the year ahead. With huge Chinese expat populations all around the world it is common to see cities stage impressive firework displays when the skies come alight with colour.


Seeing Red!


Red lanterns, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Red represents happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success and good fortune

Red is an auspicious colour in Chinese culture and no more apparent will this be seen than during the Lunar New Year period. So if you see red during this time of the year, don't get all wound up - it's really good luck!


Red is the national colour of China representing happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success and good fortune and is believed to help ward off evil spirits and any form of negativity while promoting prosperity and good energy. Streets everywhere in mainland China, as well as Chinatowns the world over, are decorated with red lanterns and associated paraphernalia.


Everyone Wants a Hong Bao!


Hong Bao, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Hong Bao/red packets are symbols of good wishes and luck for the new year ahead

The giving and receiving of red envelopes known as hóngbāo is an especially popular custom during Lunar New Year.


Red packets are symbols of good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. Filled with money, the red packets are given out as gifts to the young and unmarried. It is also given to friends, family, colleagues and many other relatives; different amounts of money are customary for each relation.


Gifting red packets is a long standing practice and Lunar New Year tradition. In recent years, technology has given this tradition a new twist!


Culture Goes Digital


We're talking E-red packets, believe it or not!


In China, people use the payment mode of their messaging app, WeChat, to send these “hong baos” to friends and family.


In Singapore, there is a movement towards “e-hong baos” for various reasons. According to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, using e-hong baos in place of physical red packets and currency notes is “environmentally more sustainable as it reduces the printing and subsequent wastage of new notes that are returned by the public to banks after each Lunar New Year.”


Check out Channel News Asia’s story on e-red packets for 2022.




E-hong baos are monetary transfers done using banking apps. Simply login to your bank’s app on your smartphone, scan a QR code or select your recipient’s name from your phone list, and you can just make that transfer.


Major banks in Singapore such as Citibank, DBS, OCBS, Maybank, Standard Chartered and UOB offer e-hong bao services. To show users how easy it is to send e-hong baos, banks such as DBS have created videos or guides for users.


How to send DBS eGift, CNY 2022

Even culture has to keep up with the times, so perhaps this is the year to go digital and who knows, maybe even the elderly in the family may be eager to learn how to get nifty with these apps!


Dance Off!


revered dragon or lion dance, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Revered dragon or lion dance

One of the most common aspects of Lunar New Year that people identify with outside of mainland China is the revered dragon or lion dance that is witnessed each year, geared to bring good luck and fortune.


A huge part of the celebrations in Chinatowns around the world, and frequently becoming more and more common in offices and work spaces, the dance entails performers mimicking a lion or dragon’s movements in appropriate costume in line with music played by accompanying actors on drums and cymbals. These tend to be more popular overseas than on the mainland, especially in countries such as Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore.


Respect the Past


The honouring of ancestors is something that is taken very seriously during Lunar New Year.


Families will visit the graves of relatives and ancestors on Lunar New Year’s Eve to offer sacrifices such as food, joss sticks and joss paper. This is done prior to the big reunion dinner as a sign of respect in letting the ancestors eat first. It is widely believed that in return ancestral spirits will both help protect their descendants and help them become prosperous.


Going Home


The New Year period is assigned as a public holiday in mainland China with a 40-day window around the main date where widespread travel is witnessed every year as people head back to their hometowns and families. In 2018 and 2019 there were almost 3 billion trips made in mainland China alone via planes, trains and automobiles as people travelled thousands of miles to be with their family, for many the only chance they have each year.


Then COVID hit. Last year this number dropped by almost 50% to 1.45 billion and China’s Transport Ministry expects that to fall further still this year to around 1.2 billion trips.


Critics argue that widespread travel in 2020 should have been curtailed given the Chinese government knew all too well that there was a deadly disease rampaging through the country. Allowing hundreds of millions of people to intersperse was hugely irresponsible and, ultimately, ensured the virus had plenty of opportunity to spread, and quickly. Allowing Chinese citizens to travel overseas during this period was grossly negligent and resulted in the spread of COVID to the devastating and life-altering levels it has become today.


COVID will literally dampen celebrations this year, as it did last, not only in China but wherever the occasion is celebrated around the world. It also means there will be a significant number of people this year who are unable to visit their friends or relatives.


Spirit of Adaptation


Still, there are many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year even in today’s pandemic environment.


At Brilliant-online, we have learnt through the pandemic that adaptation, creativity and community have been vital in helping many businesses survive and even thrive through challenging times. Perhaps that is something we can also bring to our Lunar New Year celebrations if we are not able to celebrate it as before.



Here are some simple ways to bring a bit of joy into your celebrations:


1) Be House Proud, Spring Clean anyway!

Is there a particular room or just your work desk that you have been thinking of re-doing? Focus on clearing last year’s clutter, or put on a fresh coat of paint for the room. Perhaps rearrange some furniture and decorations or bring in something new that will brighten up your day or year! Even if guests are not coming to your house, it still feels good when we tidy up our living spaces. We can be house proud whether or not someone is there to compliment it!


2) Mini Reunion Dinner

Focus on a small group such as just your immediate family or closest friends. Invite them to a dinner on Lunar New Year’s eve which falls on January 31, 2022. Popular meals for gatherings are hotpots (or “steamboats”) in which everyone gathers around a piping pot of soup in the centre of the table. Lots of fresh ingredients such as meats, seafood and vegetables can be added into the pot, cooked and eaten. Frankly, anything and everything can be added to the soup pot and eaten. It involves minimal preparation, you eat as you cook, and it is a great way to bond! If you have family or friends who are unable to travel to be with you, they can always Zoom in from wherever they are.


3) A Breath of Fresh Air

On the first day of Lunar New Year, wake up early to welcome the new year by opening your windows and doors. Invite in the fresh, clean air, and a new surge of good luck and fortune! There is something about fresh air flowing through living spaces that somehow seems to help clean it up and drive out any old residual negativity.


4) Dress Up!

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, 2022, Year of the Tiger, featured on Brilliant-Online
Dress up whether you are going out or not!

Whether or not you are going out to visit relatives or friends, dress your best anyway. This means colourful clothes, no sombre blacks, blues or greys, and certainly none of the pandemic-style house-clothes that are too posh to be pyjamas and too lame to be seen outside in! Thing is, we all feel better when we put in a bit of effort to pamper ourselves and look good, and new clothes during this time is a way to welcome good fortune. So go ahead, don't be shy, dress up whether you are going out or not!




5) Connect with Your Community

There is always something we can do to make a connection with someone and reaching out to others is a way to remind ourselves we are part of a larger whole. Make it a point to share what you have - why not gift someone your newly baked cookies or send an e-hong bao to your favourite charity?


Do you have your unique way of making the Lunar New Year festivities special in spite of limiting circumstances? Share with us! We love hearing creative ideas and feeling the warmth of people all over the world who are putting their best foot forward come what may!


If you are celebrating the Lunar New Year, then we at Brilliant-Online wish you all the very best for a healthy, safe and prosperous year ahead - Gong Xi Fa Cai!

 

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