Wishing everyone a Happy Lunar New Year! At Hao Language Centre, we celebrated this new year with traditional goodies and many other fun activities. As many of our students are non-Chinese, they have never fully immersed themselves in the Singaporean Chinese way of celebrating the Lunar New Year, except for short celebrations in school. Therefore, this Lunar New Year, all students were invited to partake in our very special Lunar New Year celebrations!
Fun fact: Lunar New Year, also commonly known as Chinese New Year, lasts for 15 days! Not many of us are aware of this as we only get 2 days of Chinese New Year public holidays. And in fact, the 15th day of Lunar New Year is Lantern Festival. Therefore, first up on our agenda was the making of Red Packet Lanterns! In Chinese culture, the auspicious red symbolises happiness while lanterns are symbols of the wish of a bright future. This leads to a common children’s handicraft activity being the making of Red Packet Lanterns to decorate the house during Lunar New Year. Our students surely had great fun making these together!
Next up on our agenda was to try traditional goodies, such as Pineapple Tarts, Bak Kwa, Love Letters, Kuih Bangkit and many more! Not only are they delicious, but they also hold cultural significance, which is why the Chinese people eat the same traditional goodies year after year. Another fun fact: Pineapple is known as Ong-Lai in the Hokkien dialect, which directly translates to “fortune, come”. Thus, those delicious Pineapple Tarts are believed to be bringers of good fortune! The sinful, sweet and savoury Bak Kwa is in the auspicious red colour and is believed to signify a robust future. However, don’t start stuffing them in your mouth just yet! This delectable treat is notorious for being unhealthy and potentially carcinogenic. So maybe just take a small bite, then another, and then another… As this is many of our non-Chinese students first experience trying some of these traditional goodies, they were bubbling with excitement and quickly snatched up all the goodies with gleaming eyes!
Our Lunar New Year celebration moved on to the introduction of Chinese New Year legends, such as Nian, The Great Race of the 12 Zodiac Animals and the Legend of Fuxi and Nuwa. According to the legend of Nian (年), it was a horrific monster that terrorised the people of Ancient China on the eve of every New Year, by attacking villagers, eating livestock, crops and even children. Thus, fear and misery would always mark the arrival of a New Year. Fortunately, a sage appeared one year and the kindness of one villager prompted him to help the villagers drive away the rampaging Nian. He then taught the villagers that the colour red, firelight and loud sounds were the things that Nian feared most, so that the villagers can stay safe every year. From that year onward, the Chinese began wearing red, putting up red decorations, and burning firecrackers before the arrival of the New Year. Nian never again appeared. The great threat was forever subdued. This legend was passed on and is said to be the origin of the Lion Dance. The boisterous performances of the Lion Dance is used as replacement for the loud noises of firecrackers in countries where firecrackers have been banned.
Our students and staff at Hao Language Centre wishes everyone a happy Lunar New Year! Hope everyone stays healthy and happy this Lunar New Year!