A Very Different CNY

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A Very Different CNY

Conversations to help us connect

By Mark Lim | 5 February 2021

For the Chinese, the New Year has always been a time of great festivities, with feasting and loud chatter as hallmarks of many family celebrations. This year, however, things will be very different, especially with recent government regulations to keep group sizes small in order to curb the spread of the global pandemic.

Even the tradition of house visiting will not be the same this year, especially as each family is only allowed to have eight visitors per day. But we can still have a meaningful time this Chinese New Year, and this article will discuss some ways in which you can better connect with your relatives.

Communicate and connect

Chinese New Year is all about family; and the festivities allow you to spend time with relatives whom you may not have seen for a long time.

Since the number of visitors has been reduced this year, it is likely that family members will stay longer at each household. This allows for more time for you to communicate and connect with them.

On the flip side, spending more time with relatives whom you haven’t seen in a while could also lead to awkward situations.

Here are some possible awkward questions and suggestions to help you get past them.

Click on the graphic to download the full set of conversation starters.

It’s never easy to be under the scrutiny of your relatives, and sometimes things could get intimidating. However, if you can use this opportunity to share more about yourself and what is important to you, perhaps you can help your relatives to understand you better. After all, isn’t Chinese New Year about family togetherness and growing closer to each other?

One other idea is to whip out party games and board games that are suitable for everyone to play together. A game of Charades would be perfect to keep everyone in high spirits as one person uses hand gestures to get his or her team members to guess the correct word. Or a board game such as Monopoly or Scrabble would be great to engage both the young and old alike. Whatever the game of choice, battling it out over a game can help draw the family closer and create fun memories for years to come.

Building relationships, virtually

The pandemic has literally shuttered the country and closed the doors to international travel. This has put a stop to traditional family reunions, when people actually travel home to spend time with their families.

However, virtual platforms such as Zoom are now making it easy for people to connect, no matter where we are.

This CNY might even see the birth of a new tradition – where different households meet virtually to lao yusheng (the traditional “Prosperity Toss”, where raw fish salad is literally tossed in the air as a symbolic gesture to usher in prosperity for the new year).

Traditions are rooted in meaning; and social changes are important determinants of how traditions evolve over time. While change can be unsettling, perhaps we will look back to this day, and remember the very different CNY this year, as well as the effort we made to keep our families united and strong.

© 2020 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.

Mark Lim is Consultant & Counsellor at The Social Factor, a consultancy and counselling agency which conducts training on life skills such as parenting, mentoring and special needs. He and his wife Sue co-write a parenting blog Parenting on Purpose, where they chronicle the life lessons from parenting two young boys aged 10 and 8.

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