This 2021, Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, falls on February 12. Unlike previous years, Chinese New Year in Singapore this year is a lot more subdued. With the heightened health measures and strict guidelines from the Ministry of Health, the streets in Chinatown are quieter than ever before.
Though people still visit the stalls, they immediately leave after making their purchases instead of looking around and leisurely walking through the streets as they used to before. Even with lights decorating the streets, the amount of people going through Chinatown this year is only about 30-50% of the population from previous years.
With the fear of the virus, people are moving towards online shopping and stalls selling goods and ox-themed merchandise are focusing more on online sales than that in-store.
As much as everyone wishes to be festive, the current situation dampens an otherwise loud and boisterous season. Unlike previous years, there will be no live opening ceremony and light-up on Feb. 12; neither will there be a festive street bazaar and countdown party. Everything will be streamed online and people are encouraged to stay at home and celebrate on their own in light of the health situation.
2021: The Year of the Metal Ox
This Feb. 12, 2021 marks the beginning of the Year of the Metal Ox. The ox is the second animal of the Chinese zodiac. It symbolises hard work, positivity, and honesty which many associate with career advancement, success in business, as well as prosperity and wellness.
After a tumultuous Year of the Metal Rat, many are looking forward to a brighter turn of events and are hoping that soon, the world-wide pandemic will be contained and the growing uncertainty surrounding the economy, the health situation, and many other factors in our lives will begin to stabilise.
Celebrating CNY in Singapore’s New Normal
With the pandemic posing a health risk on every Singaporean, the The Ministry of Health released some guidelines for everyone to observe during Chinese New Year so that this season may be celebrated safely.
According to the guidelines, people should avoid eating out and are encouraged to have their meals in the safety of their homes. If they do eat out, F&B establishments are to implement strict mask-wearing at all times aside from when people are eating or drinking. Booking of several tables and interactions between tables is also strictly prohibited. People are not allowed to sing or raise their voice whilst in public as well.
As Chinese New Year is a time when families congregate and celebrate the coming of a new season, the guidelines also advise people to avoid visiting households and getting together physically. Instead, people are encouraged to meet and celebrate together online. If one must visit other households, the guidelines advise you to limit house visits to only those of family members. Also, do not visit more than 2 households a day.
Public events are also cancelled and streamed online instead to avoid having large gatherings.
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in 2021?
With the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, you’re probably wondering how you can celebrate the Chinese New Year. Though many things have changed since Chinese New Year in 2020, there are still many ways to celebrate. Different doesn’t always mean bad. Here are some ideas for your Chinese New Year Celebrations in 2021!
Order food in
No celebration is complete without a hearty feast. Though large gatherings are no longer allowed, you can still hold a feast within your household. With many food delivery services available, you can choose from a wide array of dishes, and order some of your family’s favourites from some of the city’s most famous restaurants and hawkey stalls.
Cook food together
Though ordering food for your feast is a great idea, it’s even more enjoyable if you cook the food yourself. Not only will it be healthier because you know what goes into your meals, but you also get to spend quality time with your family and the people at home. In fact, cooking together and preparing for your Chinese New Year feast is a great family tradition you can start this year!
Watch the opening ceremony online
Though you can’t watch the Opening Ceremony live this year, you can still enjoy it with your family from the comforts and safety of your home. The opening ceremony will be live-streamed on the Chinatown Festivals Facebook page and it will include a light-up ceremony complete with lion dances as well as cultural and acrobatic performances. On top of that, there will also be online giveaways, film screenings, and even a baking workshop to look forward to!
Hold a video conference with extended family
The Chinese New Year is a time for families to get together and celebrate the dawn of a new chapter in our lives. However, given the circumstances, it is prudent to abide by the health guidelines and postpone any face to face visits to avoid risking our health and starting the year off on a bad note.
With internet service providers providing more accessible internet connection and plenty of platforms allowing you to call and see your loved ones online, you can call your family members in different households. Show them the food you cooked and the decor you put up in your home so you and celebrate the Chinese New Year together!
Aside from the festivities, Chinese New Year is a time for gratefulness and positivity. Take this time with your family to look back on the year that has passed and be grateful for all the good things that have come your way despite the global pandemic. And then, surrounded by the people you love, embrace the new year with positivity, hard work, and honesty, the hallmarks of the Year of the Ox.