Lunar New Year Traditions


Chinese New Year’s storied heritage brings with it a breadth of traditions and customs, such as the gathering of family and friends, the lighting of firecrackers, and the giving of red packets. Read on to discover some of the practices that make the holiday such a cherished occasion.

A clean start

One of the most well-known traditions is a spring cleaning in the days leading up to the festivities, which is based on the idea of renewal. A family affair in every way, members get together to thoroughly clean the home, repair broken items, and perform other chores to symbolise the purging of bad luck and the accumulation of good fortune in the coming year.

Interestingly, no cleaning takes place on the first day of the new year itself. This is to prevent any good fortune from being swept away.

Chinese New Year Spring Clean
Chinese New Year Lion Dance

Lion Dances

Singapore's name is derived from "Singapura", meaning "Lion City," a fitting moniker in many ways for one of Chinese New Year’s most exciting traditions, the lion dance. According to legend, the origins of the dance sprang from a tradition where villagers in rural China wore costumes made of cloth and straw to frighten away a creature known as Nian in an attempt to protect their crops.

Today, lion dance troupes in Singapore use the Singapore drum—a softer-sounding version of the traditional instrument to accompany their performances. However, the show is still a head turning spectacle of mythic proportions.

Red Packets

A longstanding tradition ubiquitous with Chinese New Year is the giving and receiving of red packets. Known as hongbao in Chinese, which means "red bag", these envelopes are considered a token of good luck, fortune, and happiness and are filled with money before being gifted to children, family members, friends, and colleagues.

The bright crimson colour of these packets holds the same symbolic significance of wishing prosperity while warding away any misfortune. Hongbaos are not limited to Chinese New Year; newlyweds are also showered with hong baos by their friends and wedding guests, and others may receive them on birthdays.

If you give someone a hongbao, remember to use new banknotes with an even-numbered amount inside except for denominations ending in the number four, as this number is considered bad luck. All that's left to do is say Gong Xi Fa Cai, which means wishing you prosperity in the coming year.

Chinese New Year Red Packets
Chinese New Year Oranges

An Oasis of Oranges

Amongst all the pageantry and generous splashes of red across the city, you will also find prominent displays of mandarin oranges playfully adorning homes, stores and offices. As with many aspects of Chinese culture, their presence is represented in rich allegorical roots. Their shape and colour are reminiscent of the sun, which is closely associated with the yang principle and the idea of abundance, positivity, and happiness.

Wordplay is also an integral part of the story. The Chinese language has many characters that sound similar but have different meanings. The direct translation from English for mandarin oranges is ougan, which means "gold and wealth" in abundance. When visiting someone’s home during Chinese New Year, it is good etiquette not to arrive empty-handed, and mandarins make for a welcome gift. A pair of oranges should be presented to the head of the household with both hands, and they will politely return the gesture to complete the ritual.


A Dining Dynasty

A Chinese New Year family gathering in Singapore

Family is at the heart of Chinese culture, which is never more apparent than with the reunion dinner. Also known as tuan yuan fan, the event is typically held on the eve of the New Year when families near and far come together to catch up, have fun, and share a sumptuous feast.

Before tucking into the main courses, proceedings often start with a dish called yusheng. The Cantonese-inspired raw fish salad is tossed into the air with chopsticks as family members shout, "Lo hei!", meaning ‘tossing up’ in Cantonese. It is believed that the higher the toss, the more luck one can expect for the coming year. Home gatherings have often been the venue for a reunion dinner, though some families may opt to dine out.

At Marina Bay Sands, you can savour menu after menu of mouthwatering Chinese, Singaporean, and other culturally inspired cuisines. Tuck into a host of exclusive Chinese New Year dining offers and enjoy exceptional food of epicurean proportions.

db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud

A showcase for Chef Daniel’s love of seasonal ingredients, db Bistro & Oyster Bar offers an exciting reinterpretation of traditional French bistro cooking with contemporary American flavours. For their Chinese New Year menu, db Bistro celebrates the Year of the Rabbit with a selection of dishes inspired by the season.

Standouts include the Foie Gras Fried Rice, prepared with a succulent duck confit, fresh farm eggs, finished with a garnish of scallions. Seafood lovers will find the Jumbo Black Prawns and the Flower Crab Bisque a delectable delight. Bring the whole affair to a sweet ending with a serving of the magnificently moist and perfection of the Signature Madeleines.

Book your table at db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud.


Chinese New Year at db Bistro, Marina Bay Sands
Yu Sheng from Rise Restaurant for Chinese New Year

RISE Restaurant

As a popular addition to Singapore's vibrant food scene, RISE has earned a reputation for its imaginative take on traditional Chinese cuisine and other specialties from across the region. Here the chefs blend time-honoured family recipes with contemporary techniques to offer a surprising fusion of taste, artistry, and hospitality in one immersive extravaganza.

Known for its buffets, RISE has pulled out all the stops to ensure a reunion dining experience with something special to savour for everyone. For a tender dish with a deep umami taste, the Roast Crispy Pork Belly with Mustard from the Chinese menu is a classic. Spice lovers will find the Chili Crab with Deep Fried Mantou irresistible. The Wagyu Beef Cheek Rendang from the Malay menu is an appealing temptation, while the Lemongrass Batons with Chicken bring an aromatic flair to the proceedings. Make sure you get a divine scoop of the nutty and sweet Peanut Kaya Ice Cream.

Book your table at RISE Restaurant

Mott 32 Singapore

From the selective approach to ingredients to their cooking methods and passion for flavours, every aspect of Mott 32 is the result of a gastro philosophy that embraces details. Their menu for Chinese New Year 2023 presents an impeccable choice of classics and original takes that will have the entire table preening with joy.

Start your dining escapade with some traditional Smoked Salmon Yu Sheng. Thin slices of delicious smoked salmon bring a smoky accent to the crunch of fresh Julienned vegetables and the tangy kick of condiments. The Double Boiled Abalone with Wild Mushroom Soup offers soothing, earthy notes that remind you of home. Conclude your courses with an authentic Chinese delicacy dessert in the Double Boiled Imperial Bird’s Nest Soup with Rock Sugar and a signature Mott 32 Cocktail while overlooking the glittering Marina Bay Waterfront from the comfort of one of the luxurious private dining rooms.

Book your table at Mott 32 Singapore

Mott 32 Chinese New Year Menu
A hearty Chinese New Year meal at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

Fusing bold American recipes with a touch of Asian piquancy, Yardbird will enchant your appetite with its famous Southern charm and decadent Lunar New Year menu. The Cream of Cauliflower Soup's hearty aroma will weaken you with its salty-savoury explosion of bacon cauliflower cous-cous, roasted hazelnut, and Hazelnut Oil.

Follow it up with the tantalising main course, a fall-off-the-fork tender Asian Spiced Braised Pork Ribs with crispy wild mushroom, chorizo glutinous rice, and a side of pickled celtuce finished with a generous pouring of wolfberry jus. Remember to leave room for a slice of Mandarin Tart, served with Vanilla Ice Cream and Grand Marnier Infused Cinnamon Tuile for a balance of sweet and tangy flavours. 

Book your table at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar


Shopping for Chinese New Year 2023

Chinese New Year Shopping at Marina Bay Sands

With change and renewal being prominent themes during Chinese New Year, it’s believed that wearing brand new clothes on the first day of a new year is emblematic of making a fresh start. Whether you opt for traditional clothing like a qipao or tangzhuang, or a contemporary smart casual outfit, the most important thing to consider is the colour.

A symbol of good luck and prosperity, red is the colour of choice for many during Chinese New Year as it is thought to ward off evil spirits. Though you may dress up in other colours, avoid black or white as they are associated with sombre occasions.

Shop the latest fashion and looks at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. With over 170 premium and luxury brands to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect outfit and adorn it with accessories to strut into the Year of the Rabbit in style.

Chinese New Year Goodies

Chinese New Year snacks

The plethora of savoury snacks and sweets given during the Chinese New Year festivities include delights such as Sweet Rice Balls (tang yuan), Honeycomb Biscuits, Cinnamon Cakes (Kueh Lapis), and Barbecued Pork (bak kwa). A particular favourite is Pineapple Tarts. A Singaporean original, these sticky treats were created by Peranakan Chinese settlers. Interestingly, in Hokkien, the word for "pineapple" (ong lai) is similar to the word for "prosperity" (旺来) in Chinese. Pineapples are often served during grand celebrations, and these buttery beauties have become a Chinese New Year staple and make nice gifts for family, friends, and even business clients.

To truly usher in a year of prosperity and sweet abundance, grab Chinese New Year treats from Origin + Bloom. Drawing on inspiration from the finest confectionery artisans of Europe, Origin + Bloom has carefully crafted a selection of the most enticing treats exclusively for Chinese New Year. Pick up a Prosperity Money Pouch full of indulgent gold coins, bars, and Chinese Cookies, or a Fortune Gold Bar Pound Cake made with salted chocolate and orange zest for a richly decadent surprise.

Browse a spectacular array of handcrafted sweet treats from Origin + Bloom.

Head to Chinatown

Chinese New Year in Chinatown

When the spirit of adventure calls, there is no telling where it might lead you. But if that calling is a chorus of dining delights, the applause of excited spectators, or the activity of bustling markets, you are most likely in Chinatown. Once the home to many of the first Chinese immigrants to arrive on Singapore’s shores, the area has evolved into a vibrant neighbourhood where its stew of old, new, and multi-ethnic communities makes it one of the most beloved parts of the city.


The marquee occasion that never fails to dazzle is the Chinatown Street Light-Up Ceremony. A kaleidoscopic display of lights, spirited street vendors, carnival games and activities, this event is one of the brightest and most colourful ways to set off the new season celebrations.

Xin nian kuai le (Happy New Year)!