Happy Chinese New Year 2017

I know that many of you will be celebrating Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, over the next week. It’s the end of the year of the Monkey and the start of the year of the Rooster. It’s an important time in the part of the world where I come from. Families reunite, work becomes less important.
Luck is a hugely important aspect to Chinese culture and this is true in the New Year especially. Washing hair, eating porridge, being near crying children are all things that some say are unlucky at this time of the year. There are also many people who think that you shouldn’t talk about money, or lend money too. Offices, businesses, shops all close.
However it’s clear that not everyone feels the same way. Chinese people don’t have many holidays. They work hard and the New Year is a big deal. Many people who work in cities on the eastern coast of China where many of the factories and jobs are will make their way home to their families, often travelling for days to travel inland. Chinese New Year sees some of the biggest traffic jams the world has ever seen – they can last for hundreds of kilometres. People arrive at train stations hours in advance just to make it home. Some people make huge efforts. It is the largest movement of people anywhere in the world every year. Almost 3 billion journeys are made over the holiday period.
So it’s only natural really that when people get home to see their family, they want to make the most of the holiday and celebrate well. If you are married you give money in red envelopes to younger unmarried people. But gambling is big. Sometimes for small amounts of money at home. It is important to stay up late the night before New Year to celebrate. Families play Texas Holdem, yes, but also a lot of other games too.
People also go out to the casino too, and look to win big (and spend big if they have to). Last year the casinos of Macau saw an increase in the number of people going there – up almost 5% compared to the month before. I will be playing cards for sure myself. But then that is something I do every day, so maybe the New Year card game is less special for me than it is for others!
Travel safely, and enjoy your rest.
Happy New Year.
Phua Wei Seng