Wheee... the Lunar New Year! The Lunar New Year is also referred to as Chinese New Year or CNY for short. Traditionally a celebration of a new year in the Chinese lunar calendar, CNY is now a mash-up of rich heritage, superstitions, regional customs and even pop culture influences.
Like many other major festivals such as Christmas, the celebration involves opulent decorations, non-stop feasting and tons of festivities. Chinese people open their doors to friend, relatives and neighbours for food and games, and pay visits to others during this period as well. It is a time to look forward to!
But the CNY is also full of unique ethics and specific formalities that you don't want to mess up, especially when it comes to pleasing the older generations! *Psst... they are the ones who are giving away the red packets... kaching*
Here's a fun guide put together by some of our veteran good-luck toys to help you out and have a great time during this 15-day long festival. Although every region has their own customs, and our experience mostly come from being in Singapore, you probably won't go wrong with these tips during the CNY. Whether you are visiting a friend's place, hosting a party or just curious, we hope that you'd find this useful and fun!
Panda Ink: Huat the Fuck – HUAT AH!!!
Alright, this is a pretty Singaporean thing. And Malaysian too. The Hokkien dialect word 'huat' translates to prosperity and getting rich, and it's an auspicious way to wish someone good fortune during the CNY.
Many Chinese love to use this annual event as a chance to gamble to their hearts' content, so exclaiming 'HUAT AHHH!!' before gambling not only adds liveliness to the festive atmosphere, it also feels as if a winning streak is about to take place!
Fun fact, the word 'huat' is pronounced as 'fa' in Mandarin Chinese, which rhymes with the number 8 - 'fa'. That is why the number 8, like what Huat the Fuck is holding here, is so popular in Chinese culture! Oh, but please do not imitate the middle-finger action. Nope, not a good idea to wave that around.
Other than that, go ahead and have a 'huat' time!
BMA Overjoyed – Bring Mandarin oranges!
Chinese people love symbolism. Every festive food, be it for wedding or for new year, exists for a specific reason. Most of the time, the name of the food would rhyme with something auspicious. In this case, Mandarin oranges are called "jü" (pronounced kiiiinda like "jee") in Mandarin Chinese, which sounds similar to good luck "ji" (pronounced kinda like "jee" too, but different lol).
Mandarin oranges are therefore the representative of good luck during CNY. Hosts would pile up neat pyramids of these fruits in their house. Children would exchange a pair of Mandarin oranges and some well-wishes for a red packet and sometimes, a different pair of oranges, from married adults. And if you see them, feel free to eat them – they are pretty yummy.
The Chinese also believe that good things should come in pairs, so if you are going visiting, do prepare a pair of these handy, lucky fruits!
Maneki-Dino – Red is rad! Avoid white
Color plays a big part in Chinese culture, and when it comes to CNY, red is definitely the go-to color. This has an interesting origin. According to Chinese mythology, a fearsome beast called Nian that lives in the mountains (in some versions, the sea) would spring into action every spring, terrorising towns and devouring children. People discovered that the creature was afraid of loud noises and the color red, thus it became the tradition to be decked out in red to ward away evil during spring.
While there are no scary monsters these days, the culture carries on. Streets are decorated in red ornaments such as lanterns and couplets. During visiting, you will never go wrong wearing red, or at least having red accents on you. The biggest no-no is to be dressed in all white, because that is the color for funerals. If you are going to visit elderlies, be sure to avoid wearing too much white! Instead, take some style advice from Maneki-Dino Red, and wear that bold red loud and proud!
PIGpek – Know your Zodiac signs!
Every year is a different zodiac sign for the Chinese, in a cycle of 12 signs, and this year, it is the year of the pig! The pig is the 12th and the last sign in the zodiac cycle. In Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor hosted a party to determine the zodiac signs, and the order will be based on their order which they arrived. The pig overslept and arrived last, thus given the last place in the cycle.
Pigs are the symbol of wealth. Chubby faces and big ears are features of good fortune for the Chinese, so it's easy to see why pigs are popular symbols of prosperity!
If you are looking for a gift for someone during CNY, consider getting something with a pig! Chinese are extremely good at making everything festive, so looking for a CNY gift with pigs will be a piece of cake. Gold coins with engravings of pigs, pig-shaped snacks and other pig paraphernalia will be everywhere in Chinatown.
And don't forget PIGpek, the latest creation by Whatshisname for the POPIKI family! There is no better time to release this adorable balloon pig than this year. Mind you, the next year of the pig will be 12 years later... we are so excited to welcome this new animal to the World of POPIKI by Whatshisname!!
So here you go, a list of some good-to-know tips for CNY. Be sure to catch this special release of PIGpek releasing this week, and have a greeaaat time pigging out on all the snacks! Happy Lunar New Year!