CNY amidst Covid-19

We’ve had more than one year of Covid-19, with the first case in Singapore detected on 23 January 2020. That year Chinese New Year (CNY) was on 25 January. It was still a pretty normal one as CNYs go.

After one year of controls this has been the most unusual CNY:

  • Limited to 8 visiting persons per day. Gone were huge open houses and large family reunions.
  • Limited to visiting 2 households per day, no more visiting from house to house of all friends and relatives. Most young adults would have to limit to parents or grandparents.
  • All visiting had to be pre-planned to take the above rules into account. Large families resorted to phone apps and scheduling aids.
  • Restaurants were limited to 8 guests per table and no intermixing amongst tables. Families could not book multiple tables at restaurants for reunions.
  • No loud toasts were allowed at CNY dinner during the tossing of “lo hei”, the special local CNY salad. In fact, diners were encouraged to be masked in case they inadvertently let out a few words. Restaurants were to use prerecorded toasts instead of having the wait staff recite the auspicious phrases.
  • The border was closed, so no families could drive into Malaysia for family reunions. My apartment carpark used to almost empty out during CNY but not this year. In fact, our neighbours in Malaysia were also not having family reunions on account if Covid-19, so its equal misery on both sides of the border.

But everyone is taking all these changes in stride. With the vaccine roll-out, everyone feels it will soon be over and we just need to bear with it a while more.

The salad prior to tossing. It s usually tossed high with chopsticks accompanied by shouts of more money, more business, more bonuses, more travels and the like.

5 thoughts on “CNY amidst Covid-19”

  1. I appreciated this glimpse of your culture and CNY customs too. This dreadful sickness has certainly changed the world’s family gatherings. Our birthday custom in the US is to blow out candles on a birthday cake–one candle for each year. It’s probably a good thing we have changed that tradition, for all sorts of potential bacterial illness reasons. Now, our family cuts the birthday person’s piece of cake, then we put a single candle on it so we can sing the birthday song and let them blow on their own piece of cake. It works, but no more pictures of cakes aglow with celebration and the birthday kid puffing to blow out every last candle so that their birthday wish will come true. It makes one wonder what traditions will forever be changed in light of this pandemic. I do hope and pray that it is over soon and that we will have learned to appreciate the ability to freely “gather” with family and friends when that time comes.


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