I have been living in Singapore for about six years now, and every Chinese New Year, I get to see and experience how they celebrate the said occasion.
Chinese celebrates New Year for 15 days. For some Chinese people who come from China, Brunei, Indonesia, or Malaysia, they go back to their home countries to celebrate Chinese New Year with their families. Others opt to stay in Singapore and celebrate with their friends.
On my first year in Singapore, people advised me to purchase a lot of food that could last for two or three days since most establishments would be close on these days and resume operation after Chinese New Year. They told me to visit Chinatown to see grand decorations and feel the celebration.
On Chinese New Year, I would also receive a hong bao or red packet or envelope from my Chinese colleague/friend. In the red packet, even numbers of money should be put. For example, it should have $2, $4, $6, etc inside the pocket. These numbers mean “good luck” for Chinese. The red packet is only given to single people. When a person is already married, he/she should receive Mandarin oranges. The same rule applies! When giving Mandarin oranges, it should also be even numbers. And why orange not grapes or any fruit? Because “orange” sounds like the Hokkien word for “good fortune”.
I had a funny anecdote on giving oranges. I wanted to give the best “orange” to my best Chinese friend (whom I considered as my mother in Singapore). So, I bought the most expensive orange, which is the “real orange” for me. I was so proud to give her the “best orange”! After giving her, she asked why I gave her Western orange, it should be the Mandarin orange. I kept laughing at that time, then I told myself, “Now, I know!”… 🙂
Those are only some of the traditions I observed and experienced regarding how they celebrate Chinese New Year here in Singapore. How about you?