Chinese New Year Dates in Southeast Asia
As the Year of the Dragon gives way to the Year of the Snake on February 10, 2013, Chinese families all over the world will be celebrating Chinese New Year 2013. For many, Chinese New Year is the biggest and most important festival on the calendar not just in China, but also in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries in Southeast Asia with a significant Chinese presence.
The festive dates and public holidays are based on the traditional Chinese Lunar calendar. The Chinese New Year (also called the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year) begins on the first day of the first month on the calendar, and typically ends on the 15th day, which is also known as the Lantern Festival. The first day of CNY 2013 is on Sunday, February 10, 2013 and continues until Sunday, February 24, 2013.
The public holidays in each country begin with the start of the festival, but may differ in duration.
China (including the mainland and Hong-Kong) will be providing a 3-day holiday from Feb 10-12, and so will South Korea.
Vietnam and Taiwan will have four days off from Feb 10-13.
Singapore and Malaysia have declared Chinese New Year 2013 public holidays for 2 days, from Feb 10-11.
Indonesia will have a single day public holiday on Feb 10.
People in Japan, Thailand and the Philippines do celebrate CNY as lavishly, as expected, the governments in these countries are not offering a public holiday for the festival. Holiday or not, the traditions are the same in every country.
What Happens on Chinese New Year?
As a start, it’s a time for a top-to-bottom home cleaning, similar to spring cleaning in the west. It is done before CNY, to “sweep away the bad luck”. On New Year’s Eve, it is time for family reunions, with new clothes and gifts for everyone, and a great big feast which is often followed by cultural programs and firecrackers (outlawed in some countries) to end the night.
Restaurants tend to be packed solid as families enjoy their reunion dinners, but if you do find a place you can be sure you’ll enjoy the variety and the festive offerings on the menu.
Elders often distribute little red packets stuffed with money inside to younger people. It’s known as Hong Bao, but the name for this tradition may differ by country. Oh, and don’t forget to greet people with “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which is a New Year greeting that actually means “Wishing you a prosperous year.”
Chinese New Year in Singapore
There’s also going to be a lot of shopping in Chinatown before the festival and during it. Every Chinatown in Southeast Asia comes alive with a bustling street market much before CNY. In Singapore, the holiday atmosphere kicks in way early, with colorful stalls lined up along Pagoda Street and Terengganu Street weeks before the start of the Chinese New Year.
Festivals to partake during Chinese New Year
Apart from Chinatown, the two biggest attractions in Singapore during the Chinese New Year are the Chingay Parade and the Singapore River Hong Bao carnival. The Chingay Parade in front of City Hall has turned into a famous international event that attracts participants from all over the world. Apart from traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances, the parade now features spectacular and massive floats, along with international troupes performing everything from salsa dances to acrobatics.
The Festive River Hong Bao
The River Hong Bao carnival is eagerly awaited all year round by both young and old. It is held every year on Marina Promenade. The fairground is a magical world filled with floats dedicated to mythical Chinese legends and creatures. Traditional cultural programs are put on by teams who fly in from China. It’s a lot of fun too, with everything a carnival needs from fireworks to a huge variety of food stalls and palm readers.
Chinese New Year Forecast with Chinese Zodiacs
Speaking of astrology, every year in the Chinese calendar is related to one of 12 animals from the Zodiac, which changes once a year instead of once a month like the western Zodiac system. So 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit and 2012 was the Year of the Dragon. Going forward, 2013 will be the Year of the Snake and 2014 will be the Year of Horse. For the record, CNY 2014 is on January 31, 2014. CNY 2015 falls on February 19, 2015 and is the Year of the Goat.
Just like the western zodiac pairs certain traits and abilities with people born under a specific star sign in the English calendar, so the Chinese system infers people born in a specific year with similar talents and personality traits. For example, any child born during the Year of the Snake in 2013 is going to be deep and dangerous and will not trust anyone else easily. They are also supposed to be very good with money.
But generally speaking, Feb 10, 2013, is a chance for people in China, Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia to take a break from daily life, enjoy the series of festive dates, catch up with family and friends and together usher in the Chinese New Year and wish each other Gong Xi Fa Cai!