We have barely taken down the Christmas Tree and before we know it we will be celebrating Chinese New Year here in Singapore.
Singapore is a multicultural nation with ethnic Chinese representing close to 75% of the population, Malay around 13%, Indian 9% and other 3%. Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar and it is an important tradition in Singapore like in many other places with high Chinese heritage across Asia.
In a lot of aspects I find it similar to Thanksgiving in America: a lot of people travel to be with their family, dinner with its traditional food is the center piece of the holiday and shopping is turning more intense.
Like for a lot of companies Chinese New Year requires a vast amount of planning. Unlike most of our Chinese competitiors who shut down operations from 1 to 4 weeks Central Midori will close only for 2 days. Some of our employees will travel back to their home country but the disruption to our production will be limited, thanks to the size of Singapore.
The full Chinese New Year celebrations last 15 days. This year it starts on Friday Feb 16th 2018 and will end on March 2nd with a full moon.
The lunar calendar also defines a 12-year repeating cycle of Chinese zodiac, each year is named after an animal, this new year is the year of the dog.
It is tradition to give a red envelope filled with money to friends, family and colleagues. At Central Midori we go to the bank and collect clean crisp bills the week before, we then fill the envelope and the General Manager hands it over to each employee with the ritual wishing "Gong Xi Fa Cai", Happy Chinese New Year!
Chinese superstitions are very different from the west. So many traditions are rooted deeply in ancient China history that I have to ask my colleagues all the time for the meaning of a particular custom. For example, tangerines and oranges are lucky fruits and they are often given with the red envelope, many people dress in red for the festive occasion or the entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day...
While firecrackers are very popular during this time of the year in China they have been banned since 1972 in Singapore but don't you worry! a loud cacophony of drums will scare away the bad spirits of the past year, ensuring luck and prosperity for the 2018 year of the dog!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!