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CHINESE NEW YEAR SURVIVAL KIT


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A publication by Tan Norman

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Editor’s Note It’s the time of the year again, some of us enjoy it so much, we cannot wait to bask in the atmosphere, we travel all the way down to Chinatown amidst the sweaty and pushy crowd for the pre-CNY (Chinese New Year) shopping (page 14). Some of us loathe it so much; we just want to get done with the mandatory visits to relatives whom we need to wreck our brains to even know how to address them each year (page 30). And don’t get started on the awkward conversations you can’t wait to get out off (page 32)! C

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Fear not, this publication is on your side. I, too, understand the pains and gains of Chinese New Year. In fact, having lived in the heart of Chinatown since birth, I have witnessed and experienced countless Chinese New Years, from the preparatory, to the actual event and the post, hence this publication. CNY comes and goes, and you have to survive it through. Regardless of your take on the festival, there are plentiful of insights and customs this publication will aid you in surviving CNY with your well being at heart. Take this survival kit with a pinch of salt or none at all, but all in all, this (CNY) calls for a celebration for sure!


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The Chinese Zodiac 04 Prayers 13 Eat Your Heart Out! 16 Things to Prepare 23 Do’s and Don’ts 28 Poker Face 35


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十二 生肖

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十二 生肖

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s e e n i z h o c d iac e th

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Before we even begin on the CNY customs and survival skills, it is important to know the basis of things. For CNY, the Chinese Zodiac cycle plays a particularly important role in regulating the cycle yearly. Just like how the westerns have the zodiac rotation monthly, the Chinese Zodiac completes a cycle every 12 years, meaning each zodiac are entitled to a year before the next zodiac has its turn. And the best part? Your birthdate and year are tied in closely!

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mine is better than yours!

Wondering why your annoying sibling cannot get off your back? Or why you and your close friend can talk about basically everything without ever getting sick? We will get to that on your Chinese Zodiac Compatibility, but before we get there, continue for a thick-skinned short self introductory proclaim by each Zodiac, just like how you would boast about yours being more superior. Have a laugh or two!

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rat

ox

I am a self-proclaimed inquisitor. I am a link yet I function as a complete unit. I aim at encompassing heights and strike my target, sure and steady. Life is one joyous journey for me. Each search must end with a new quest. I am progress, exploration and insight. I am the womb of ginormous activity.

Mine is a stabilizing force that perpetuates the cycle of life. I stand immobile against the test of adversity, resolute and unimpeachable. I seek to serve integrity, to the burdens of righteousness. I abide by the laws of nature patiently pushing the wheel of Fate. Thus, I shall weave my own destiny.

tiger

rabbit

I am a delightful paradox. The entire world is my stage. I set new trails ablaze; I seek the unattainable, and try the untried. I dance to life's music in gay abandon. Come with me on my carousel rides. See the myriad of colors, the flickering lights. All hail the unparalleled performer, me.

I am in tune with the pulse of the universe. In my quiet solitude I hear the melodies of the soul. I float above commonplace dissent and decay. I am subdued by my ability to conform. I color my world in delicate pastel hues. I epitomize harmony and inner peace..

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dragon

snake

I am an unquenchable fire, the center of all energy, the stout heroic heart. I am truth and light, I hold power and glory in my sway. My presence disperses dark clouds. I have been chosen to tame the Fates.

Mine is the wisdom of the ages. I hold the key to the mysteries of life. Casting my seeds on fertile ground, I nurture them with constancy and purpose. My sights are fixed. My gaze remains unchanged. Unyielding, inexorable and deep, I advance with steady gait, the solid earth beneath me.

horse

goat

I am the Kaleidoscope of the mind. I impart light, color and perpetual motion. I think, I see, I am moved by electric fluidity. Constant only in my inconstancy, I am unshackled by mundane holds, unchecked by sturdy, binding goals. I run unimpeded through virgin paths. My spirit unconquered, my soul forever free now.

I am nature's special child. I trust and am rewarded by trust. Fortune smiles upon my countenance. All things blossom in the gentleness of my love. I strive to find beauty in all I behold. I am fair of face and full of grace and elegance.

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monkey

rooster

I am the seasoned traveler of the Labyrinth. The genius of alacrity, wizard of the impossible. My brilliance is yet unmatched in its originality. My heart's filled with potent magic that could cast a hundred spells. I am put together for mine own pleasure.

I am on hand to herald in the day, and to announce its exit. I thrive by clockwork and precision. In my unending quest for perfection all things will be restored to their rightful place. I am the exacting taskmaster, the ever-watchful administrator. I seek perfect order in my world. I represent unfailing dedication.

dog

pig

The martial strains have summoned me to hear your sorrows, still your pain. I am the protector of Justice. Equality, my sole friend. My vision is never blurred by cowardice, my soul never chained. Life without honor is life in vain.

Of all God's children I have the purest heart. With innocence and faith, I walk in Love's protective light. By giving of myself freely I am richer and twice blest. Bonded to all mankind by common fellowship, my goodwill is universal and knows no bounds.

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how to check your zodiac compatibility


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sign

best match

worst match

rat ox

dragon, monkey, ox

horse, rabbit, rooster, goat

rat, snake, rooster

horse, goat, dog

horse, dog, rabbit

snake, monkey

goat, dog, pig

rat, rooster

rat, monkey, snake

dog

ox, rooster, dragon

tiger, pig

tiger, goat, dog

rat, ox

rabbit, horse, pig

rat, ox

rat, dragon, rooster

tiger

ox, snake, monkey, dragon

rabbit, rat

tiger, horse, pig

ox, dragon

goat, rabbit, dog

snake

tiger rabbit dragon snake horse goat monkey rooster dog pig

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恭喜 发财


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红包 拿来


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the god of prosperity It is a belief that before New Year’s Eve, the God of Prosperity will return to Heaven to report about how the family was doing. During the first fifteen days of Chinese New Year, the God of Prosperity will return to Earth one day to continue bringing more fortune to the family.

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However, for the God of Prosperity to return, incense paper and offerings have to be made by the family to invite him to bestow his fortune upon them. The auspicious timing and day to do so differs every year. It is said that a portrait of the God of Prosperity should be pasted in the house to invite him back, and the work should never be facing the main gate of the house. This is because it symbolizes the God of Prosperity pouring his fortune meant for the family out of the house. So get prepared and HUAT AH!*

*HUAT AH refers to ‘To Prosper’.

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THE THE jade jade emperor emperor

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The Jade Emperor is known by many names, including The Jade Emperor known by many names, including The Jade Emperor is known by is many names, including Heavenly Heavenly Grandfather, which is used by commoners; Heavenly thewhich Grandfather, which the Grandfather, is used by commoners; the is Pureused Augustby Jadecommoners; Emperor, Pure August Jade Emperor, August Personage of Pure Jade, August the of Jade Personage August Personage Jade, theEmperor, Xuanling High August Sovereign; and his rarely used,of Jade, the Xuanling High Sovereign; and his rarely used, formal Xuanling title, High Sovereign; and his rarely used, formal title, formal title, Peace Absolving, Central August Spirit Exalted, Ancient Buddha, Peace Absolving, Central August Spirit Exalted, Most Peace Ancient Absolving, Central August Spirit Exalted, Pious and Honorable, His Highness the Jade-Emperor, Xuanling High Ancient Buddha, Most Pious and Honorable, His Highness Buddha, the Most Pious and Honorable, His Highness the Sovereign. Phew! Jade-Emperor, Xuanling High Sovereign. Phew! Jade-Emperor, Xuanling High Sovereign. Phew!

The Jade Emperor’s birthday falls on the ninth day of Chinese New Year. It

The Jade Emperor’s birthday falls on the ninth day Theof Jade Emperor’s birthday falls on the ninth day of isChinese also touted New as an event grander than the first day of Chinese New Year itself. Chinese New Year. It is also touted as an event grander Year. It is also touted as an event grander On this day, offerings are made thank the Jade Emperor for the past year, than the first day of Chinese New Year itself. Onthan this day, the first day oftoChinese New Year itself. On this day, and a series of offerings including an assortment of food and fruits, to joss for the past offerings are made to thank the Jade Emperor for offerings the past are made to thank the Jade Emperor sticks incense paper are of prepared. This is regarded as part ofan a tradition year, and a series of offerings including an assortment year,andand of a series offerings including assortment of CNY. Burning of the offerings usually take place pastincense midnight during the are food and fruits, to joss sticks and incense paperfor food are and fruits, to joss sticks and paper hour. This The night along with otherofneighbors doing thefor CNY. prepared. This is regarded as part of a tradition auspicious prepared. for CNY. is breeze, regarded asyour part a tradition thing actually makes you feel as though it is therapeutic. Burning of the offerings usually take place past same Burning midnight of the offerings usually take place past midnight during the auspicious hour. The night breeze, along during with the auspicious hour. The night breeze, along with your other neighbors doing the same thing actually yourmakes other neighbors doing the same thing actually makes you feel as though it is therapeutic. you feel as though it is therapeutic.

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EAT YOUR HEART OUT! Yes the food is amazing and yes they actually mean something! Before you appear gullible in front of your relatives, here is a simple trivia on some of the snacks commonly eaten during CNY! Have an interesting read!

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Prawn Rolls: Prawns are also known as xia in madarin, and hence they symbolize liveliness, and an active new year!

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Pineapple Tarts: Pineapple tarts represent wealth, luck, excellent fortune, gambling luck! Huat ah!

Love Letters: They are quite literal to their name! Another CNY all—time favorite!

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Bak Kwa: In Cantonese, Bak Kwa symbolizes a robust fortune, and has become a CNY favorite. And jacked up prices especially during CNY season.

Cashew Nuts: Gold, money (the nut's shape symbolises the gold bar of ancient times).

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Melon Seeds: Family unity, the melon, also candied, symbolizes growth, and good health.

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Kueh Bangkit: Gold, money (the nut's shape symbolises the gold bar of ancient times).

Mandarin Oranges: Ah, the most symbolic fruit of CNY! They represent wealth, good fortune and gold.

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know your calories! 21


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food (100 grams)

calories (kcal)

roasted cashew nuts

611

prawn rolls

506

kueh lapis

490

bak kwa

410

love letters

430.8

white rabbit candy

412.5

pineapple tart

410

kueh bangkit

383.3

kueh baulu

377.8

melon seeds

258

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DO’S AND DON’TS

CHINESE NEW YEAR

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DO’S AND DON’TS

CHINESE NEW YEAR

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new It is a definite must for everyone to purchase new clothes prior to CNY! Not only because it is a tradition to ‘renew’ your wardrobe and to start off the new year in a ‘fresh’ start, but also to kickstart your new year feeling amazing in your new clothings! Perfect excuse to go shopping! C

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On top of that, it is essential to ‘Spring Clean’ your rooms prior to the festive season. The ‘spring cleaning’ process is as dreadful as it sounds, requiring you to not only clean your homes, but also your wardrobes and other minute things you have always wanted to keep despite how useless they are, because you just want them.

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Apart from your physical belongings, it is also essential to keep your own well–being, well, well. Quite often than not, people tend to fall sick during the CNY period. A gentle reminder to feast on the amazing food yes, but also don’t be stingy on yourself in terms of the fluids!

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Auspicious things C

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There are that many things to prepare prior to CNY, that this publication alone cannot cover. It is not my intention to do so regardless. This publication speaks of a traditional festival in a modern and almost conflicting tone, it is a representation of a modern interpretation of the traditional festival And indeed, even as we celebrate the festival that is Chinese New Year, the traditional and very straight-forward method of celebration is long gone. However so, there are still auspicious things we still do or prepare for CNY regardless. From wearing red, to a reunion feast on Chinese New Year’s eve, to even visiting relatives and friends. If anything, I think some of us see our distant relatives only once on that special first day of CNY. Apart from those very factual things that rarely change, I think attitude is fairly important. Remain positive I feel, because it truly makes either your grandparents or whoever is your closest relative to be appreciated. Nothing like a sincere CNY well-wishing!

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things to avoid during cny 1 Avoid sweeping the floor and disposing off garbage: There is an old saying that there is money luck at home and that you should sweep from the outside to the inside of the house to avoid outflow of your wealth.

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Avoid slaughtering: In the morning avoid killing of animals such as chickens and ducks. Knife is used to slaughter and it is associated with bad omen. It brings bad luck to the people at home. This is not a problem because you can buy from the supermarket chickens and ducks pre-slaughtered and ready to be cooked.

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3 Avoid eating porridge: In the old days in China rich people eat “dry” rice while poor people eat porridge. However, for the first day of Chinese New Year, it does not matter how poor you are you must eat “dry” rice, hoping that you will be able to eat ‘dry’ rice throughout the year. There is another folklore saying that if you eat porridge you will be caught in the falling rain and be soaking wet.

4 Avoid taking medicine: It is not an auspicious thing that you have to take medication on the first day of Chinese New Year. When you must, wrap your medicine in a red packet.

5 Don’t take nap in the afternoon: According to tradition you get rich by working hard. For the start of a new year you should be prepared to work hard and not taking a nap in the afternoon.

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6 Don’t reprimand the children: When you reprimand your children it means that they are not behaving well. It signifies that there is no peace at home and your children are mischievous throughout the year.

7 Avoid breaking of china and glassware: When you break something especially cups, plates and spoons on the first day of Chinese New Year, it means it will “break” the people, the family or your money luck. If it does happen wrap the pieces in red paper and throw it away after the fifth day of Chinese New Year. C

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8 Avoid quarrelling and fighting: On the first day of Chinese New Year we wish for auspicious omen, so you do not quarrel or start a fight. If there is an argument it means it will not be a smooth year for the family and business. It is even worse when you start a fight with someone. It means there will be bloodshed and jail term in the year.

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9 Avoid giving money: Apart from the giving of Ang Pow, the first day of Chinese New Year is not a time to pay debt, give out loan or give as a gift ( give red packet instead). It signifies outflow of wealth and poverty

10 Avoid crying and sobbing: Your house is usually fill with happiness and laughter and if there is crying and sobbing going on the house, it is not going to be a good sign. It signifies that it is a difficult year for the family members or disaster will befall.

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joss sticks are kept burning to ensure longevity


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ways to avoid an awkward conversation It’s that first day of Chinese New Year and you are seated with relatives you last saw last year. Awkward? Here are 10 top ways to diffuse that feeling!

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1 Acknowledge the moment: This works best when the conversation has been halted by somebody saying something embarrassing, rude, or untimely.

2 Find something non-threatening to comment upon: Sometimes, people run out of things to say, so it's good to have a couple ideas to get things back on track. C

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3 Listen carefully to what your acquaintance says back to you: As with any good conversation, the biggest key is to listen.

4 Talk about your achievements: This can be a great way to find something in common with another person. Avoid the "mine is better than yours" types of comments, such as how much you make, or how big your house is.

5 Avoid flat responses. Avoid one-word "yes" or "no" responses yourself, and try not asking questions that prompt simple yes or no answers.

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6 Think about things to talk about, ahead of time: If you know you'll be in a situation where you'll be meeting new people, and perhaps thrust into a setting where one-on-one conversation with a stranger is likely, think of topics you can bring up.

7 Relax. C

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8 Transfer the awkwardness to a third party: Sometimes, you might find the two of you have hit on a topic that's uncomfortable to one or both of you, and silence ensues. Asking a personal question at this point might make things even more awkward.

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9 Find an activity: If you decide you enjoy the person you're talking with, but for whatever reason the conversation has stalled, suggest something you can do together.

10 Start a new topic: It may not be that you have run out of things to say, only that the topic of conversation has been played out. Take the conversation in a different direction by talking about the news or the weather, or your favorite book—anything to break away from the previous conversation.

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poker face The evil twin of Chinese New Year that gets you hooked on to it, with no mercy, lets talk about gambling.

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BLACK JACK A Chinese New Year classic gambling game, the objective is to attain a total of 21 points with the least number of cards. Easy and quick to win, equally quick to lose. 皇

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IN—BETWEEN A slightly more complicated game, each player is handed two cards. The wider the range, the better for you, as you have a greater chance to ‘bet’ that you will win a card from in—between the two cards you have. Yup, caught in—between gambling or not now. 皇

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PERFECT 10 Each player is handed a stack of five cards. In your own deck, try to match each pair so that they all add up to ten. 4 to 6, 2 to 8, J to J, and 10 to 10, for instance. Rotate a card each, first to attain three pairs wins.

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Oh mahjong, the love—hate relationship most of us have, depending on whether we know or we don’t on how to play the game that goes on for hours usually. Meh, for those of us completely uninterested or bored by how long we have to wait for our folks to complete their round. The rounds miraculously do not end when you want them to. Love when we want to stay around longer, while our folks are at their mahjong tables, we get to socialize/rest/get uninterrupted adult—free attention. For the game has captivated them long enough to want to look up at our progress.

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So, as much as Chinese New Year may be a chore to some of us, it is as dear as it is to the others. When I first decided to title this publication as a “Chinese New Year Survival Kit’, I was wary of the other group of people keen on the festival that actually look forward to it. But it a modern context, this publication serves not only for people who diss festivals and their annoying relatives, but in general, a different light on the festival and also for everyone, whether they like the festival the same way or not, to truly survive the festival.

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Be it their wealth, health or stealth, it is important for yourself! (A rhyme there!) All in all, this publication covers the bare minimum of the true Chinese New Year preparatory. And of course, there are plentiful of other things to prepare, but these are just some I have taken out of to publish in a twist. As mentioned in the forenote, take this publication with a pinch of salt, or none at all! Norman

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Chinese New Year Survival Kit  

A sarcastic take on the much celebrated Chinese New Year in Singapore, but yet still very much close to heart!

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