Chinese Xmas and Santa Claus
10.02.2013 28 °C
The Year of the Snake has slithered its way here today. Had been living in Singapore for over 3 years, but this is the 1st time we actually do something that would resemble what the locals do in CNY (Chinese New Year). We bought some CNY biscuits. And even went to visit the Float @ Marina Bay on CNY's Day on 10 Feb.
Every CNY, Singaporean government would put on a lantern display during the Spring Festival ('chun jie'='春节' as Chinese New Year is sometimes called). And it had been a tradition to place the Float at Marina Bay on a floating platform.
It had been raining, no, dumping down, for the last 3 days before the CNY's Day . From memory in the past 3 CNYs, it had been dry. But CNY falls on different dates every year (it falls between January 21 and February 20. Some years, it fall on the Valentine's Day). If it occurs in January, the chance of rain is lower. When I looked at the weather forecast to decide what would be the best day to attend. The weather forecast showed exactly the same rain pattern for the whole week. So we decided that we would simply take a chance.
Chili crabs and cockles
In fact, the rain had stopped when we left the house about 5:30pm. We went there and grab some dinner. We ordered chili crabs, boiled cockles and a seafood fried rice from the seafood stall on the Food Street that was set up next to the Float.
Both of these are Singapore specialities, very popular with the locals. Chili crab is up there with laksa, Hokkien noodles, fried carrot cakes, and Hainan chicken in terms of popularity, and being Singaporean. We wanted to make today a truly Singaporean day.
As a foodie, I'm truly flushed with embarrassment to admit that this is the 1st time I ordered a chili crab having lived here for more than 3 years. Shame on me! I ordered crabs once before, but it was cooked in century eggs, not chili. Very interesting taste combo, though.
I don't know why it took us so long to order one. It wasn't as if I can't handle spicy food. I love laksa, and eat it often. I didn't regret that I ordered the chili crab. It gave my mouth quite a party. I also love cockles, and they're often added into laksa and Hokkien noodle dishes. This order of cockles is so-so because most of the juice had gone. Still, I enjoyed it.
When we arrived at the Marina Bay, rains had resumed, albeit only drizzle. Despite the rain, it didn't dampen the spirit of a scattering crowd there. The highlight (pun intended) of the Float this year is the giant lantern of the God of Fortune (='cai shen'='財神'), who stands 18m tall. He's said to be the tallest lantern in Asia.
CNY isn't complete without the appearance of the God of Fortune. CNY in East and SE Asia is the closest thing to Xmas in the West. In the West, you get all this commercialisation of Xmas like Xmas musics and decorations in shopping malls. Likewise, you get CNY music and decorations in shopping malls the weeks leading up to CNY.
And you also get to meet God of Fortune. It's Chinese Santa Claus. He also gives away things.
You would usually see him walking around shopping malls and whatnot handling out Red Packets, which usually contain chocolate coins instead of Luck Money. It isn't the actual value in the Red Envelop that matters, it's receiving anything from God of Fortune would bring luck to the whole year. Who can't use some luck throughout the year?
The giant lantern above, along with all the other lanterns
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