Feb 6, 2009

Chinese New Year - Singapore vs Taiwan

Having been in Taiwan for the past eight years, I confess to have celebrated Chinese New Year here twice here in that period (this year included), the rest spent on extended overseas trips to take advantage of the long holiday. This year however, due to an extension to the family, I've decided to stay put in Taiwan for the celebrations.

Of course, being over 70% Chinese (in more ways than one), Singapore also celebrates Chinese New Year, albeit in a smaller scale (being the majority race, we must be sensitive to the feelings of our fellow Malay, Indian and Other Singaporeans, you know.)

Although similar, Chinese New Year in Taiwan and Singapore still differ in several ways that might put the average Singaporean off-guard when spending the festive season in Taiwan, so here's a rough comparison:

1. Length
Singapore - 2 days
Taiwan - usually 7 days, or more depending on weekends

2. Ang paos (red packets)
Singapore - Married people should distribute ang paos to children, and single relatives, etc.
Taiwan - Working people should distribute ang paos to children, parents, and schooling relatives. Once you start earning your own keep, sorry...no more ang paos for you.

3. Firecrackers
Singapore - Dream on.
Taiwan - Anytime, anywhere, anyhow! When you least expect it...

4. Entertainment
Singapore - Ban luck (blackjack), Mahjong (13 tiles)
Taiwan - Da Lao Er (Big 2 card game), Mahjong (16 tiles)

5. Shopping
Singapore - No luck. Orchard Road is dead for the Chinese New Year holidays.
Taiwan - Shopping centres are open all through Chinese New Year, so there's always somewhere to go when bored of Mahjong and vegging out in front of the TV.

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