The celebration of Chinese New Year is an important 15 day long festival.
A month in advance the city of Singapore gets decorated. Mandarin trees, pink blossom trees, lanterns, lights, red…en this year: tigers.
Not only is the city beautifully decorated, but there are also all sorts of festivities.
Artist from whole Asia come to Singapore to perform: acrobats, musicians, dancers and magicians…
There are night markets, special new years products, actually quite comparable to our christmas markets;-).
At home people clean their homes (wiping out all bad luck), preparing special new year dishes, buying new clothes and so on.
Culminating in an evening of fireworks.
Families spend the evening together at home with their (grand) parents with a huge feast. They light candles in honor of their ancestors and open their windows at midnight to let out the ghosts of the old year and make way for the new year.
But then it actually begins, because Chinese New Year lasts 15 days.
These have a fixed pattern:
On the morning of the first day, children are supposed to deliver breakfast to their parents from whom they receive Hongbao : red envelopes with money.
Day 1 and 2 continue to be devoted to visiting family and friends. Here too, there are rules who gives Hongbao to whom and about exchanging two mandarins and other such rituals.
Day 3 is for ancestor worship.
And so on …
In this period there is also the Hongbao Festival. On the float, the floating soccer field, there was a huge area decorated with light objects. Lanterns representing the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, such as Dog, Monkey, and lots of Tigers.
There was a huge dragon made of (melted) sugar; imagine what a job that must have been.
Present were Chinese artists from Chengdu who master this sugar-art. They wrote, as it were, with melted sugar-syrup, on a marble slab, put a stick in the still soft stuff, let it harden, and voila…..here you have a beautiful, delicate, flat dragon lollipop or whatever.
On site was a stage and outdoor theater with continuous shows of Asian artists. Some were good, cute, beautiful or at least funny. Others were not our westerners cup of tea; for example because it was in mandarin. But never mind. All together it was very lively and entertaining.
And there was the annual Chingay parade, a carnival. Let’s say the Chinese version of the carnival in Rio.
We had tickets for the tribunes (you could also see it for free , standing for hours along the road) and it was mega grand scale, a well-oiled machine (typical Singaporean). There were as many as 11,000 people participating in the parade!!
The costumes were wonderful and outrageous. A variety of bright colors, hair, makeup … all wonderful.
Gigantic large floats, lights, fireworks …. unbelievable!
Being such a small scale state, we -the public- get to see the president and prime minister regularly at events like this one.
Speaking about the Government: they have a quite strong regulatory role in respect of the whole life, even in the personal and family life. More about that in another blog.
I mention it here, because several floats had a political-ideological twist, that you might otherwise not understand.
For example there was a float of men, women and children, dressed in pajamas, with cribs on wheels, which is an illustration of an important government message: family and having children is important (getting a third child is even promoted and subsidized by the government).
For our dutch eyes and minds it looks too obvious and paternalistic, this government propaganda. But well, this is Singapore.
And then Chinese New Year 2010 comes to an end.
It was beautiful, it was a lot and new for me. I had a ball!