It was only one lunar year ago that things were perfectly normal. Some of us were booking weekend holidays over the Chinese New Year period; others were doing their shopping and cooking; still others might have been cracking schemes to avoid that nosey Aunty So-and-So at the next party.
What a difference Chinese New Year 2021 is going to be!
No taking the chance for a jaunt to Phuket or Bintan. No huge, cheerful, noisy fairs full of cookies and bak-kwa in every shopping mall. Chinatown will miss its usual jam-packed crowds, and visiting the relatives will be a tricky exercise in head-counting. Hey, at least it will be easy to mute Aunty So-and-So on Zoom...
But here in Singapore we’ve been incredibly fortunate. The worst of the global pandemic passed us by, due to the tremendous efforts made by the local medical and logistical infrastructure, and wise decisions made by those in authority. As a result, we can now look towards the Year of the Ox with hope and cautious optimism.
Here’s how we’re embracing a new lease on life in 2021.
1. Appreciating friends and family more
We’re all guilty of it. A friend asks you out for dinner, but you’d rather stay home and watch Netflix. Your parents nag you to visit, and you groan and sigh. Your colleagues arrange a get-together – you show up for five minutes, make sure the boss saw you, and go right out and hail a cab home.
It’s all right – we all feel lazy sometimes. But if there’s one thing we learned over the last year, it’s that face-to-face connections matter. You might have dragged your feet a bit to go to that birthday party; but if you were invited, then that person valued your presence, and that’s something we should no longer take for granted. Who knows when you might get to see your favourite people again?
2. Taking time to enjoy our own backyard
Not being able to travel meant that we all started to look for fun things to do within our own borders – and hey, who’d have guessed there were so many? From riding a foldable bike down Punggol Waterway, to exploring the treasures of the Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore is full of interesting things to do and places to go. There’s a surprising amount of wildlife (most notably the otter families, frequently sighted since the circuit breaker when human crowds vanished from their territory), beautiful parks and greenery, and historical and cultural sights in various parts of the island. We’ve been so accustomed to scuba diving in the Philippines and trekking in New Zealand, we’ve mostly ignored our own treasures – and now’s the best time to truly discover them!
3. Minding our health
The pandemic spotlighted our health in many ways. So many of us are not as fit as we could be; we don’t exercise enough, we don’t eat mindfully, we allow life to get us stressed out. We deal with all the consequences as if it was all inevitable, from high blood pressure to insomnia, and shrug our shoulders – that’s life!
But it isn’t, and 2020 shocked us out of our complacency. Not only did everyone become acutely aware of their own state of health, we also became more conscious of our neglect of self-care. Worldwide, more people began to start new exercise regimes, from yoga to jogging; many more also began to practice mindfulness, whether in meditation or simply in daily life.
There are many reason to feel thankful – and yes, even a little bit bullish! – as the Ox Year rolls in. Don’t be afraid to start something new or try something different. There’s no better time than now!
SHOP - A SPLASH OF RED , CHINESE NEW YEAR EDIT