That’s all folks: Chinese New Year is almost over. We’ve only had one Singapore CNY prior to this but already I know the drill – first, the fairy lights get taken down from outside Cold Storage. They’ve been up for ages – since November, when they went up for Christmas – and they’ve stayed up right through til now. The music in the aisles will return to ‘normal’: bluesy melodies by artists beginning with the letter ‘B’ (Bangles, Beach Boys, Belinda Carlisle). Like the lights, we’ve had festive tunes since November. Disney carols segueing neatly into upbeat renditions of the classic Gong Xi Gong Xi tune piping out from behind the boxes of pineapple tarts. After that it’s all fairly academic: shops take down the red hanging horses (snakes last year), sales come to a sad end, lions stop dancing around shopping malls, receptionists stop putting you on hold and pick up the phone, and there is a definite Return-To-Duties kind of feel about the place.
Chinese New Year is enormous over here and goes on for longer than many other festivals worldwide, with the general theme being about happiness and good fortune, and it does seem to make people genuinely happy. Singapore heralds itself as a city full of overjoyed people, or so we are told via numerous cinema and television adverts – but during New Year it really is. I shall miss the constant well wishes and genuine smiles at every turn; it’s been a real pleasure to witness the excitement at close quarters.
This weekend we saw a big parade that just so happened to begin at the top of our road; we only knew about it thanks to the road closure signs on the lampposts. Just as the first rains of the year fell (someone in charge of climate scheduling needs to look at that for next time) a series of huge floats set off for the city from the top of our street, amidst fire-cracker gun-bursts and the throb of pop tunes booming from the top of an enormous flashing Merlion: truly marvellous stuff. The resulting fog was a lot like the Haze, only happy.
It’s been lovely to have my annual sadness at the end of Western Christmas softened by the upbeat activites of this borrowed Lunar new year party. January* has always been a special month for us, housing the birthdays of our son, our two mothers and my best friend. Now it has another trophy to its display case.
*Or February, depending when the calendar falls. February is now fine, too.