The Ang Moh’s Guide to Lunar New Year

Working in a company that has a rather high number of foreigners (ang mohs, mainly) – I’ve come to realise that as international Singapore is; we have plenty of stuff that just isn’t known by everyone internationally.

#1 It’s Actually Called Chinese Lunar New Year

It’s a common mistake made by even locals. Heck, I always just wish people “Happy Chinese New Year!” too.

Just somehow easier on the tongue… but yes, Lunar is the right word.

The reason behind this is because the Chinese mark our new year according to the moon. So in other words, our new year changes every year – it doesn’t play along with the westernised new year of 1st January.

Supposed to be between the dates of 21 February to 20 January hereabout… Some super smart people do the calculations and all that. Commoners like me just Google, “lunar new year 2016” and get the dates from there.

#2 It’s Practically the Equivalent of Your Christmas

The whole jazz about being together with family. And often visiting relatives whom you actually will not think about for the rest of the year.

And instead of gifts, we give these red packets that contain cold hard cash in them.

Image Credit: Pinterest
Image Credit: Pinterest

Red packets come in countless different designs and often companies go on to print their own customised packets.

#3 It’s an Unspoken Rule to Use Pressed “New” Notes

Don’t think it’s written anywhere… but whenever someone gives a crumpled, dirty note – it is often greeted with a frown.

Even though the monetary value of the note does not decrease; the face of the giver does. It seems like the person did not give enough respect or face to the receiver to put in good-looking notes.

Touchy, yes. Might seem somewhat shallow, I agree.

But it is what it is.

#4 Things Must Be In Even Numbers

So don’t have people an orange… Oh, the blasphemy! It is regarded as bad luck and highly inauspicious!

Always give oranges in twos… Even money have to be in even numbers.

#5 The Mandarin Orange Isn’t Just Any Orange

Speaking of oranges – you cannot just buy any orange in the supermarket and then bring it for Lunar New Year.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

They’re much smaller and less round in that sense…

Once I was in such a mad rush for a last minute visit and didn’t have oranges; I accidentally bought the normal large oranges. My host was amused, to say the least.

#6 You Technically Only Need One (Or Two) Pairs of Mandarin Oranges

No matter how many houses you visit, you actually only need about 1-2 pairs on your own.


Because every time you go hand someone a pair of oranges, they’re supposed to return the blessing with a pair of their own. So it’s an exchange that goes on endlessly till someone decides to gobble the fruit up.

Then again, they’re supposed to… It’s rude to remind them if they should forget. So keep a spare pair, just in case. 😉

#7 Avoid Wearing Old Clothes and Dark Colours

When I was younger, I got scolded if I wore my Lunar New Year clothes before the actual day… Because then it won’t be entirely new. :/ Something along the lines of bringing in old bad luck from the previous year, I think.

It’s mandatory that we pick out something new and in a bright colour to usher in the new year!

#8 Yu Sheng Is Awesome

HAHA! Okay, this is very biased of me… *blush* But my favourite part of Chinese New Year is the yu sheng.

Image Credit:
Image Credit:

Yu sheng; also known as Prosperity Toss or Lo Hei, is basically a jumble of shredded vegetables in sauce and some raw fish.

Each ingredient has its own meaning that is paired up with a blessing, but I honestly don’t have them memorised. Heh.

Everyone is supposed to stick in their chopsticks and toss the salad. The higher you lift up the ingredients with your chopsticks, the better your luck. And don’t forget to say some blessings with it! Whenever my brain doesn’t give me any, I just go, “Huat ah! Huat ah! (Get rich!)”

And because everyone is tossing the salad (most aren’t professional tossers), and all high on blabbering out tonnes of wishes for the new year… It can get super messy, with food all over and sometimes some will land on your hand.

Sometimes I don’t even need a plate. It’s served into my hand already anyway.

But yea, a tad unhygienic… 😛

Alrightie. Everyone have an awesome Lunar New Year!

P.S. Some of the people around me have it rough this Lunar New Year, and are really bummed out. 😦 Things can get real shitty… but, hey! A sucky ending of the previous lunar year just makes it easier for a better upcoming lunar year. 🙂 


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