Celebrate Lunar New Year Safely This Year

6 creative workarounds to pandemic-proof your celebrations.

By Annie Tan      8 February 2021

Lunar New Year has always been a time for gatherings and feasts. While Covid-19 may have put a damper on the festivities this year, with a little creativity, you can still create beautiful memories for yourself and loved ones. Here is your Covid-safe cheat-sheet.

1. Host A Virtual Reunion Dinner

Worried that your Lunar New Year Eve reunion dinner will not feel the same without a table full of loved ones and food? Recreate the boisterous energy and family spirit virtually. However, don’t stop at a 20-minute Zoom call. Host an entire Zoom reunion dinner for the entire extended family. And to comply with the no-shouting-of-auspicious-phrases rule, download this app and make it shout all those lucky phrases for you!

For a greater sense of togetherness, order the same dish across different households, bond over new flavours and share tasting notes. Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant at The Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel has many interesting yusheng (prosperity toss) sets including a Boston Lobster and Caviar Yu Sheng (from $108), and a Pear and Avocado Vegetarian Yu Sheng (from $68). SAFRA members also enjoy 10 per cent discount off the Prosperity Abalone Yu Sheng (valid for both dine-in and takeaway till 26 Feb) at all Dian Xiao Er outlets. Toss your way to a more prosperous Ox year.

2. Stay Up Late On The Eve

After the reunion dinner, it is tradition to stay up late on Lunar New Year Eve. Also known as shou sui (守岁), this practice is believed to add years to one’s parents’ lives. Some families drink, chat and play games deep into the night. Others go to Chinatown to watch live performances, catch fireworks and count down to the New Year together.

While such large gatherings are no longer feasible, and there are no festivities in Chinatown during these Covid-times, you can still enjoy an all-nighter, keep vigil and soak in the ambience with your extended family and friends. Take the bar to your home with a Pony Old Fashioned, Negroni or Chocolate Boulevardier cocktail from the award-winning Jigger & Pony group. Toast to a brilliant new lunar year virtually while watching fireworks on YouTube. Nagaoka Nigata JAPAN festival offers 30 minutes of spectacular fireworks beautifully synced to music.

Alternatively, send your buddies the recipe of an Oriental-themed cocktail, and slowly savour it together over a game of online mahjong via apps such as Let’s Mahjong, Mahjong 3P or Mahjong 13 Tiles. To create the Jade Cocktail, combine 60ml of white rum, 7ml of green creme de menthe, 15ml of cointreau and 15ml of lime juice, shake and strain into a martini glass.

3. Bless Young Ones With eHongbaos

Handing out red packets or hongbaos to children, youth and unmarried relatives is also a beloved festive tradition. Filled with crisp new notes, these red packets represented blessings for a smooth and successful year ahead.

While it may be prudent to cut down on visiting this year, it is still possible to bless loved ones with the symbolic gesture and a cash gift via DBS’s eGift or QR Gift. These eHongbaos are not only hassle-free and environmentally friendly, but also come with a personalised message. So take the time to pen a thoughtful blessing to make up for the lack of face-to-face greetings this year.

4. Soak In The Festive Ambience

Skip the trip to Chinatown and enjoy the festivities from the comfort of your favourite armchair. Many of the season’s iconic events will be available online this year, such as the first fully digital 2021 Chingay festival. There will be a free webcast and telecast on 20 February from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Find out more about the virtual events and live streams here.

You can also embark on a Chinatown 360 Virtual Tour and a Heritage Tour from early February, and catch three short films featuring Chinatown merchants such as Bee Cheng Hiang and Spring Court, offering rare insights on festive delights and traditions.

5. Sharing Festive Goodies

Food is an important part of Lunar New Year, and most of our festive favourites are rich with symbolism. For instance, bak kwa (barbecued sliced pork) comes in an auspicious red colour for good luck, and pineapple, the main ingredient in the popular pineapple tarts, is pronounced as “ong lai” in Hokkien, which also means prosperity is arriving.

This year, instead of wolfing down these festive goodies with family and friends, why not send well wishes via a festive hamper instead? Kele offers a Spring Florescene hamper ($107.80), with auspicious flowers, tangerine pineapple tarts and a pair of mandarin oranges, and the eight-decade-old Lim Chee Guan also offers delivery on its signature sliced pork bak kwa at $56 per kg.

Many traditional hawkers are also going digital this year, including 20 hawkers from Chinatown Complex. Shop for bak kwa, pineapple tarts, festive cookies and yu sheng at their pilot online store. Home bakers and independent bakeries are also offering a wide variety of new-fangled and exciting flavours online. Try Absolutely Batter’s Mala Zai’Er Crisps and Cheesy Classic Pineapple Tarts, Backlane Bakehouse’s Florentine Nut Crisps, or Bloomsbury Bakers’ Pork Floss Seaweed Cookies.

6. Dressing For The Season

Donning brightly coloured new clothes for Lunar New Year symbolises new beginnings and hope for a good year ahead. However, if you find that you are all dressed up with nowhere to go, why not take to social media to share your latest Lunar New Year fashion? Do an Outfit-Of-The-Day #OOTD post on Instagram or Instagram Stories, or show more swagger with a creative Tik Tok video for posterity, and share it with family and friends.

Have some great ideas for your Lunar New Year celebration? Share your tips with us at magnsman@sph.com.sg