How to survive your first Chinese New Year as a newly-married couple in 2020

Photo: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash
Photo: Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

It’s the dawn of a new decade and also the Year of the Rat — the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac. It’s all about new beginnings this 2020 and in more ways than one, especially if you’re a newly-wedded couple celebrating Lunar New Year. The way you celebrate changes slightly post-marriage, and there are traditions to be observed. 

From familiarizing yourself with red packet protocol, to knowing how to properly address each relative, it’s a lot. What do you do when impressing the relatives extends well beyond the extended family? 

A stress-free CNY is possible, and we’re here to help. Don’t just take it from us though, we’ve asked some young couples their best survival tips. 

“Find out the market rate, figure out which families you’ll be visiting, and always prepare a few extra hongbaos just in case.” 

— Sarah (29) and Kai (32), married for 4 years

It’s always good to keep up with the yearly market rate, lest you be labeled a miser. Don’t forget, even numbers are generally preferred, and at least SG$8 is always a safe bet, but for your sake and ours, avoid SG$4 as the number four sounds like ‘death’ in Mandarin. 

Tech-forward couples might even opt for digital red packets — giving cash gifts through GrabPay or using QR codes make for efficient and hassle-free red packet distribution. Besides being eco-friendly, it allows for a handy digital record of expenses. What’s not to like?

“Plan your visiting! It’s always good to have all the addresses, contact numbers and names of relatives in one place. We use Google Docs.” 

— Shu Wen (25) and Jon (25), married for 2 years

Your single days are over, so appeasing both sides of the family is vital — this means showing up on time when you make the rounds. Planning ahead wherever possible is definitely key, guess it’s a good thing we have all this technology at our disposal. 

Booking a Grab ride to the next house is a no-brainer, but did you know about these additional features?

Making an Advanced Booking means a guaranteed fare range (which includes a SG$8 scheduling fee) regardless of surge, leaving you with more time to spend with the fam. Don’t forget to set a Fare Alert to be notified when fares drop. Travelling in a big group? Get a GrabCoach to ferry the whole kampong to your next stop. Save time on traveling too, when you deliver hampers to your destination with GrabExpress.

“Different families do things differently, but when you don’t know which customs to follow, consult your nearest Ah Ma. Oh, and don’t show up empty-handed.”

— Denise (23) and Timothy (26), married for 1 year

There is some conflict as to whether newly-wedded couples are meant to give out red packets in their first year of marriage. There’s no harm in asking the elders present when in doubt, just make sure you haven’t arrived empty-handed.

Besides the mandatory pair of oranges, Nian Gao (glutinous rice cake) is always a good option. Phonetically, it sounds like “year high” in Mandarin, suggesting increasing levels of prosperity year after year for those who eat it. There’s no wonder it’s the gift of choice for relatives.

Instead of braving the Chinatown crowds, why not save time (and your sanity) by ordering your goodies via the GrabFood Mega Huat Goodies store? Time saved means more time to spend with family, and you can do that by ordering in those Coca-Cola Prosperity bundles to eat together.

From buying new clothes to eating at restaurants and sending CNY goodies to family members, Chinese New Year is definitely an expensive holiday. Your bank account might also still be recovering post-Christmas, so why not save while you spend, when you shop at GrabPay stores? You’ll get to rack up those points, both digitally and karmically. 

Photo: Grab

For every transaction over SG$8 made through Grab, you get a digital angbao containing a zodiac coin, and if you’re lucky, a promo too. Collect all 12 unique zodiac coins to win a whole bunch of prizes that include cruise holidays, a trip to Bangkok, entertainment vouchers, beauty hampers, and many more this Lunar New Year.

Head over to Grab’s website for more information. 


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