How Does Singapore Celebrate the Lunar New Year?

by GemBet
lunar new year

The Year of the Rabbit is upon us. Revelers all over the world are preparing food, buying gifts, and stocking up on fireworks as they seek to join in with the Lunar New Year celebrations until the beginning of February. 

In Singapore, Chinese New Year is celebrated similarly to other parts of Asia, but with a few key differences.

Let’s take a closer look to see what those differences are and find out how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in Singapore.


Lunar New Year Celebrations in Singapore

Lunar New Year is more than just a transition from one year to the next. It is a holiday steeped in ceremony and tradition. 

Family gatherings are one of the most significant parts of the Chinese New Year, and Singaporeans spend most of the holiday with their loved ones. They may travel across borders and fly thousands of miles to be with their family and friends. When surrounded by the people they love, they exchange gifts (including red envelopes filled with money), eat, and celebrate.


How long do Lunar New Year celebrations last?

In 2023, the Chinese New Year has started on January 22nd and ending on February 5th. It begins in earnest with New Year’s Eve, which kicks off on January 21st and is celebrated with food, drink, and general revelry. The celebrations will then run until the Lantern Festival, another big date on the Chinese calendar.

The Lantern Festival always marks the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated by lighting and flying lanterns.


What days are considered holidays in Singapore during the Lunar New Year celebration? 

The whole 2-week period is celebrated, but some key dates deserve more attention than others:

  • New Year’s Eve (January 21st, 2023): A family reunion dinner is usually staged and everyone stays awake until midnight to see the clocks change and usher in a new day and year.
  • New Year’s Day (January 22nd, 2023): A day for spending time with family and exchanging gifts. It’s also common to visit the graves of deceased family members.
  • Day of the Sheep (January 25th, 2023): A day of good fortune that is dedicated to prayer, gifts, and offerings.
  • Lantern Festival Preparations (February 2nd to 4th. 2023): Festivities are prepared for the upcoming Lantern Festival. Food is cooked, parties are planned, and lanterns are created.
  • Lantern Festival (February 5th, 2023): Dragons dance, lanterns fly, and all of the family get involved with the celebrations. The Lantern Festival marks the end of the Lunar New Year festivities.

As far as public holidays are concerned, only January 22nd and 23rd (Sunday and Monday) are public holidays in 2023.


Fun Facts About Lunar New Year in Singapore

  • efore the New Year, houses are swept and cleaned.
  • Customs dictate that no sweeping/washing should take place on the first day of the year.
  • Lunar New Year traditionally begins at 11 PM, but in Singapore, it is often delayed to midnight.
  • Tea and flowers are given as gifts and offerings.
  • Children are encouraged to stay awake to see the year change.
  • All days of the festival have their name and meaning.

History of the Lunar New Year in Singapore

Nearly three-quarters of Singaporeans are ethnically Chinese, and the region has had a large Chinese population for nearly 2 centuries. As a result, there have been celebrations here for many decades.

These celebrations have gotten bigger and grander in recent years, and these days everyone joins in, including those with no ties to China.


Hottest Spots to Celebrate At

The Chingay Parade is one of the hottest spots to celebrate New Year. It traces its roots back over 100 years and features an array of giant floats, lion dancers, and more.

There is also a 9-day celebration at River Hongbao. First staged in 1987, it hosts nightly performances, and everyone is more than welcome to attend the celebration for a dazzling Lunar New Year Experience.

Singaporeans also spend most of their time at family homes and Chinese temples during the New Year, as it’s ultimately about family and tradition.


Traditional Lunar New Year Meals

Whether you’re spending the New Year with family, at a club, in the temple, or by the riverside, food will no doubt play a massive role.

Some of the most popular options during the Lunar New Year include:

  • Lo Hei: Often seen at reunion dinners, lo hei is a fish and salad dish meant to be shared and tossed together—the higher it is tossed, the better your prospects will be for the year ahead.
  • Pen Cai: A Cantonese dish made with an assortment of fish and vegetables.
  • Kueh Kapit: These “love letters” are wafer snacks commonly eaten during Lunar New Year.
  • Ong Lei: A delicious pineapple tart.


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