February 17, 2015

Lunar New Year: Welcoming the Year of the Goat

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Feb

17

Lunar New Year: Welcoming the Year of the Goat

According to the Chinese zodiac, the Year of the Goat (also known as Sheep or Ram) starts from 19 February 2015. Of the 12 symbols in the zodiac, the goat represents peace, calm, and generosity.

Customs and traditions for celebrating Lunar New Year vary widely. New Year’s Eve is considered important, as families gather for their annual reunion dinner that symbolizes togetherness and family unity.

It is traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house in order to sweep away any ill fortune and make way for incoming good luck. Families also decorate their homes with red couplets, hanging firecrackers and red paper-cuts that symbolize wealth, happiness, and longevity. During the 15 days of the Lunar New Year celebration, it’s a tradition for married couples to give out money in red paper envelopes (hang bao) to children and single relatives and friends.

To celebrate Lunar New Year, Cartus colleagues in Asia Pacific took a break from providing corporate relocation services to answer three questions about how they will mark this important event!

Celebrating Lunar New Year

Maggie Qu – Business Development Director, China – based in Shanghai

What is your favorite New Year food?
I love Chinese dumplings. It’s a tradition in North China, where I was brought up, to eat dumplings at our New Year’s Eve dinner and for breakfast on New Year’s Day. The dumplings are shaped like JinYuanBao, the traditional Chinese gold bars, and they symbolize good fortune. My mother normally puts coins or dates in a few of the dumplings, so whoever eats these special ones first will have the best New Year!

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
My family tradition is not to take out the trash on the first day of the New Year so that we don’t throw away the good luck.

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
New Year is an important occasion and I’m going home to spend time with my family!

Chan Jun Hao – Intercultural Program Consultant – based in Singapore

What is your favorite New Year food?
I particularly like the pineapple tarts and the bite-sized prawn rolls.

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
I wear new clothes on the first day of the New Year and do not sweep on the first three days so as not to lose the good luck!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
I am part of a big family, so we will be doing lots of visiting this year!

Celine Tan – Senior Manager, Account Management – based in Singapore

What is your favorite New Year food?
It has to be bak kwa, which is barbecued pork. This year I may try to bake a traditional Indonesian cake called kueh lapis; it is spicy with many layers that require great patience to make.

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
No sweeping the floor on the first day of Lunar New Year. I did wonder whether I could vacuum the floor instead, since this would still keep the good fortune in, but no one has answered this for me!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
I have been saying I will get all my uncles and aunties over for a gathering, and I should really set out to do it this New Year. However, I won’t tell them they will actually be the “guinea pigs” for my once-a-year cooking!

Jo-Lynn Wee – Client Services Director – based in Singapore

What is your favorite New Year food?
Like Celine, I like bak kwa (barbecued pork)

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
As well as not sweeping the floor, we also avoid saying anything mean or unpleasant, as we believe that you should only say nice things—especially on the first day.

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
New year is typically a very busy period where we visit families and friends. This year is no different, except that my husband will not be around on the first day, and I will do the visiting with our four boys myself. It’ll be interesting to see how long I can keep the smile on my face and avoid scolding the boys if they misbehave!

Denise Ng – Director, Destination & Real Estate Services – based in Hong Kong

What is your favorite New Year food?
Turnip cake, as it is full of flavor and very tasty. Especially my aunt’s homemade ones, which are super yummy!

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
I don’t wash my hair on the first day of the new year. Hair in Chinese is “wealth,” so I don’t want to wash away the good luck!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
Yes, I am considering travelling with the family and spending this New Year abroad, maybe somewhere warm!

Jay Lim – Account Executive – based in Singapore

What is your favorite New Year food?
My mum’s homemade pineapple tarts.

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
I place a hang bao (red packet) underneath my pillow before I go to sleep on New Year’s Eve to ward away evil spirits; it’s something I have done since I was young. I also change to a new wallet, which is supposed to symbolize better wealth in the new year!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
I always enjoy this festive period to catch up with my family and relatives abroad and, of course, to feast! This year will be extra special, as it will be the first time that I am celebrating the Lunar New Year in my new place.

Michelle Low – Director, Strategic Development APAC – based in Singapore

What is your favorite New Year food?
For our family it has to be Nian gao, which means year cake; gao sounds the same as the word for tall or high. We believe that by eating the cake, we will achieve new heights in the coming year.  The cake is made of glutinous rice flour, brown sugar, and oil. It’s best eaten when deep-fried and coated with egg … yum yum!

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
This is the only time I can take a break from housework, as sweeping or cleaning the house will, we believe, chase away all the good luck. We also dress in red to bring us good luck, and typically our children stay up past midnight on New Year’s Eve. We believe that by doing this, parents will enjoy longevity!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
Yes! I’m going to stop giving red packets hong bao to all my unmarried cousins and friends … they are over 30 years old already!

Jessica Lv – Account Manager, Intercultural & Language Solutions – based in Shanghai

What is your favorite New Year food?
I like White Rabbit Candy, which is similar to nougat or taffy and originated in Shanghai.

What New Year superstition/s do you follow?
Like many of my colleagues, I do not do any cleaning on the first day of New Year!

Are you doing anything special this New Year?
I am planning to feast with my family throughout the New Year holiday!

However you and your family plan to spend Lunar New Year, everyone at Cartus wishes you a bountiful and prosperous New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Picture of Kenneth  Kwek

Posted By

Kenneth Kwek

About Kenneth

Kenneth is senior vice president, General Manager of the APAC region. Worldwide ERC has honored him with the Meritorious Service Award.

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