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“How to celebrate Chinese New Year this year? Who to visit on 初一, 初二 and 初三?” (chu yi, chu er and chu san, the first three days of Chinese New Year)

This has been an ongoing topic in my family group chat for the past few days, and the main concern is “who gets to visit whom and when?”

With the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the community, our arrangements regarding the visiting schedule has become a growing concern for my 76-year-old Ahma. If it’s an Ahma problem, it’s the whole family problem.

And we are not alone, it seems that almost all Singaporeans are doing “decentralised” gatherings, where relatives would visit on different days, to keep within the cap on daily visitors per household.

The authorities are also encouraging people to stay home during this period if they are feeling unwell, even if they test negative for the virus, as they expect an Omicron wave to hit soon

Not only that, on a rather sombre note, the Ministry of Sustainability and Environment announced that government agencies would step up enforcement at hotspots and implement additional crowd management measures at popular areas such as Chinatown during the Chinese New Year period. So don’t play play.

So how do we welcome the Year of the Tiger without flouting the rules and regulations that have been put in place?

Have a Zoom call with your relatives!

Chinese New Year Visiting
Image source: Shutterstock / myboys.me

“A Zoom call? Like work? Are you kidding me?” You might be wondering. But hey! At least you can have everyone together at the same time, albeit through a small screen.

After two years of Covid, we’re no stranger to virtual hangouts with co-workers, friends and family. And even though it’s not the same as meeting the fam in person, it’s a decent replacement, especially for those relatives who are overseas.

I mean, it’s all about the metaverse these days, and you know, it’s never too late to be hanging out on Zoom!

And at least this year, it’s harder for the usual family argument to flare up (in the past, it’d be over an over-enthusiastic hand of blackjack, dai di, or a mahjong game)!

Not to mention, it’s much easier to dodge those kaypoh uncles and aunties when they start asking awkward questions!

Get outdoors

Chinese New Year Visiting
Image source: imtmphoto

Instead of staying in and piling on the new year calories, how about getting out and about?

As long as you stay in groups of five, a walk at a nature reserve or along the beach would be a great way of taking in some fresh air and breathing in the festive spirit.

A walk is also an activity that anyone can do, from your ah gong to the latest baby addition to the family!

Go on a movie date

Chinese New Year Visiting
Image source: Shutterstock / Mark Agnor

My family’s favourite Chinese New Year activity has always been watching one of legendary Hong Kong funnyman Stephen Chow’s movies on Channel 8.

Back then (and even now!) there would always be a movie marathon on TV, and the children would be forced to watch these movies as there was only one TV at home and online streaming wasn’t a thing back yet!

With cinemas allowing up to 1,000 vaccinated persons to watch movies together, one way to meet up with the fam is to go on an extended movie outing. As long as everyone heeds the rules and regulations, you’ll be fine!

This is a way to spend time together and although you’re sitting apart and not talking during the movie, at least you can gossip about it on the family WhatApp group.

Of course, you can also set up a big Netflix Party or Disney+ viewing sesh online too. That way, you get to enjoy some wholesome movies, and pass silly remarks in the chat!

Eating out at restaurants

Chinese New Year Visiting
Image source: Shutterstock / Tom Wang

Of course, Chinese New Year is about feasting. But this year, the restrictions mean that there can’t be multiple table bookings unless you are from the same household. And even then, there should not be inter-mingling across tables.

Nevertheless, even a casual wave at each other at the same makan place is one way of seeing the relatives in person and give you a chance to give out those hongbao!

Talking about hongbao, one way of blessing the fam is to go the e-hongbao route for CNY.

Chinese New Year Visiting
Image source: Jasmine Loh

I recently found out that the Monetary Authority of Singapore issues about 100 million new notes annually to meet Chinese New Year and other festive periods, then destroys a large proportion of it after because it far exceeds normal circulation demand!

So, if nothing else, giving out an e-hongbao means you’re saving the environment, not to mention saving yourself a trip to the ATM or risk the queue at a bank

You might think that it doesn’t feel the same anymore, but ultimately, it’s the thoughts and blessings that count! And speaking as an unmarried person, the “loot” I get too!

Put up Chinese New Year decorations

Of course, Chinese New Year is also about cleaning up and zhng-ing your house. All over Singapore, residents going all out on their Chinese New Year decorations.

@weeteck Blk 702, #BedokReservoir – your #CNY #huat spirit is on point 👍🏼! Any other estates ready for #CNY2022 ? Duet this cos I wanna see! #tiktoksg ♬ 恭喜发财 – MY ASTRO

We even reported on a Malay man who helped set up Chinese New Year decorations for his elderly Tampines neighbours!

If you and the fam want to get competitive, you can get your relatives or even neighbours to decorate your houses and corridors with the HoodChampions Chinese New Year competition!

Even if you don’t win the top prize, never mind lah! There are still goodie bags to be redeemed and the most important thing is that you get to spend quality time with the family!

Chinese New Year is all about celebrating the occasion with loved ones. But for all that’s said, the most important thing is to keep each other safe from the Omicron variant.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Tiger!

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