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The Case For Not Spending Chinese New Year At Home

The Case For Not Spending Chinese New Year At Home

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It’s that time of the year again. 

A time of endless feasting, steamboats and pineapple tarts, of getting together with your favourite cousins; of red packets from that rich uncle padding your piggy bank. 

These are a few of our favourite things. But as we’ve gotten older, we’ve started liking them for different reasons. 

We take part in CNY rituals because we find comfort in preserving tradition, and not so much because of their novelty. We may embrace the routine because we love gathering around the dining table for the annual Lo Hei, shouting, “Huat ah!” at the top of our lungs, but not the cleaning up that follows. 

It’s nothing to be concerned about, but how did we get here in the first place? 

Is it because we already know what to expect? 

From the music in shopping malls to the decorations that go up around our estates, to the uncomfortable questions that make us squirm, it’s more or the less the same every year. Or perhaps it’s the way we follow our parents from one home to another, each time gathering in front of the television set for the same catalogue of CNY movies? 

Or maybe it’s simply because the holiday revolves around one main thing: house visits, and the fact that all we do is stay indoors.

Family reunions should be fun, but the reality is that most of us see our relatives on a regular basis throughout the year. So CNY can almost feel like sort of the same, just with nicer clothes, more festive cheer, and more decadent feasting. As such, families fall back into a comfortable pattern: sitting around, watching television and catching up on each other’s life stories. 

So, why do we continue to stay in? Why don’t we ever try doing something a little less expected?

Image from KOMA.
Picture this: every Chinese New Year, the Central Business District empties out, transforming it into an oasis of calm. Peppered with the familiar, unforgettable dong dong qiang music echoing throughout retail outlets, it’s a festive experience with untapped potential.

If your family members are mobile and able to comfortably navigate public spaces, you’ll find that heading out as a family during Chinese New Year can be infinitely more fulfilling than staying in.

For one, there’s little to no preparation needed because no one needs to play host. Imagine your own mother: no longer fretting about messy living rooms or wondering if their homemade almond cookies are as good as store bought ones or whether 5 tins of pineapple tarts are too few. 

If you find the right starting point, you can let adventure be your guide. This opens up more new opportunities for interaction, and new activities to try. So say, let’s take food for example. Our country offers the best of cosmopolitan cuisine, so why not savour delectable dining from Marina Bay Sands? 

This is a sponsored post after all, so here’s our blatant pitch: there’s KOMA for a modern take on Japanese cuisine, and LAVO for gourmets looking for the best Italian-American food. I even hear that Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen is offering Lo Hei for the CNY period this year.

Festive dishes at Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay.
While your food babies are settling down, perhaps seek out some entertainment. 

For the pretentious hipsters/artistically inclined, there are museums to visit. ArtScience Museum has exhibitions like Disney: Magic of Animation where you can explore the techniques and technologies that bring your favourite animations to life, or 2219: Futures Imagined where Singapore’s future is presented in vivid, multimedia depictions, as envisioned by artists, architects, filmmakers and writers.

Jellyfish in the artwork win '> < win, 2019' by Rimini Protokoll in '2219: Futures Imagined' at ArtScience Museum.
But if you want something less cerebral, there are always sights, attractions, and events taking place. There’s Spectra, a light and water show with all the spectacle of a fireworks display. For those who prefer their colours rendered in less abstract form, there’s the Digital Light Canvas, an interactive kaleidoscope depicting elements inspired by nature. 

The Digital Light Canvas in The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
And who can forget shopping? Chinese New Year has always been an excuse to buy new clothes, whether before, during, or after the actual holiday. With more than enough choices—218 shops when I last counted at The Shoppes at MBS—your family can surely spend an entire day figuring out the right combination of tops, bottoms, and footwear to grace their CNY and the months to come. 

Personally, I prefer the calm that comes with the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck, where after a long day of walking around, all you might want to do is settle down into each other’s company and take in the Singapore skyline.

View from the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck.
With all these stimulating new experiences, conversations become that much more fruitful and invigorating, making Chinese New Year a much more enriching experience.

And just think about the gift of finally connecting again with the family, whether over discussing the merits of raw salmon versus tuna (I’m team salmon), or by engaging in speculative fiction over at the ArtScience Museum’s 2219: Futures Imagined.

Maybe you’ll find nuggets of wisdom in stories from grandparents who lived through World War II. Or you’ll learn about how your aunt wanted to become an artist, but decided to become an accountant instead. 

Or your cousin might share some money-saving tips with you, thanks to the new credit card they just signed up for. Who knows?

It can be hard to break from tradition, but when you do, anything can happen.

And if you’re hard pressed to find a location, Marina Bay Sands has you covered. From dining to shopping to entertainment and attractions, their offerings run the full gamut, allowing your relatives to feel as pampered as the celebrities who vacation there.

So please treat yourself this Chinese New Year and distract your family by getting out of the house—unless you have to head back to Malaysia like me. I guess I’ll have to find another way to reignite the magic.

This story was sponsored by Marina Bay Sands.

Looking to create your own special Lunar New Year traditions this year? Discover a world of festive experiences at Marina Bay Sands. With over 170 luxury premium boutiques, more than 80 dining options, and a range of entertainment and attractions, you can celebrate any way you desire.

From 24 Jan till 2 Feb, enjoy 2x Rewards (3% to 6%) with your complimentary Sands Rewards LifeStyle membership when you shop and dine at participating outlets.

Author

Dennis Chen Contributor