CNY2021 Digital Hacks
Ah, hindsight is a beautiful thing.
As we were celebrating Chinese New Year in 2020, few of us imagined that the pandemic would be still lingering over our heads in 2021.
After last year’s events, it’s clear that everyone can truly appreciate the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation right now. Though the situation has stabilised, we’re not out of the woods yet. Now, more than ever, it’s important to stay healthy and safe while celebrating CNY.
With that in mind, here are some hacks to help you get into the festive mood!
2021, a different kind of CNY. PHOTO: UNSPLASH.COM
Streaming for reunion dinners and visitations
With gatherings kept to eight people, bai nian is about to get a lot more quiet. What might work instead for larger families is that they might meet online instead, in groups of eight.
Here’s what you might want to do ahead of CNY:
- Standardise the platforms you’ll use: Zoom, Teams or Google Hangouts.
- Consider the setup of your live stream.
- Can your camera capture the full table?
- What kind of lighting does your space have?
- Can your audio visual equipment stand the sticky mess that Lo Hei typically results in?
Giving Lo Hei a digital spin
Speaking of Lo Hei, you’ve probably heard the news by now about the curbs on shouting auspicious phrases. But the annual tossing of yusheng doesn’t have to be a silent affair thanks to some nifty apps.
Just tap on the phrase of your choice, and it’ll be belted out of your phone with gusto. There’s even a version with dialect readings, while others are helpfully organised by ingredients instead. For instance, tap on the sweet sauce and the app will read out the appropriate auspicious phrase for that condiment (a definite lifesaver because, let’s face it, most of us can’t remember which phrase goes with which ingredient).
e-Ang Pows for hygiene purposes
Compared to the early 2010s where digital payments were clunky and fiddly to use, these days, many people will have their mobile number linked with PayNow, making transfers easy.
Now, let’s look at the pros and cons from digital Ang Pows:
If you find the packing of Ang Pows a chore, the good news for you is that COVID-19 (and just germs in general) is a legitimate excuse to use one of the many payment apps. “Aiya, money got germs.”
If you have the PayNow details of all your relatives, you could potentially complete your money dispersing responsibilities within an hour.
Even better – you could set up standing instructions with your bank so you won’t need to go through the process next year.
In addition, those who aren’t too generous in their Ang Pow operations could benefit from some distance; you won’t get to see the look of disapproval that happens when you give ‘below market value.’
None. Unless you really like the feeling of cash in your hands.
Bond through virtual activities?
One reason why we look forward to CNY is the myriad of activities we can get up to with a large crowd. Here are some ways to overcome the physical distance and still do our favourite things together.
Unleash your inner singing diva
One significant victim of the pandemic is definitely karaoke. Fortunately, technology has responded quickly with a variety of services popping up to facilitate karaoke without everyone being in the same room.
Most of these are paid or subscription services but we feel it’s definitely worth it to spend a little for what is, after all, a special occasion.
If you’re on a budget, there are articles such as this one on how to host a virtual karaoke party for free.
Stream the classic CNY shows for some quality time
A more passive but no less enjoyable annual ritual is gathering around to watch some classic CNY shows playing on TV, typically one starring Jackie Chan, Stephen Chow, Donnie Yen or any of their contemporaries.
Thanks to the abundance of streaming options today, each household can stay in, press ‘play’ at the same time, and tune in to the same programme, all while chatting about the plot over a video call.
Here’s a suggestion: with some classic Channel 8 Singaporean dramas now available on Netflix, you might wanna relive the glory of the 1980s and 1990s with your older folks who will no doubt appreciate the nostalgia.
Some highlights we thought you and your relatives might find interesting:
The Unbeatables (1993) is legendary as the classic gambling show which has that epic “I will use this $10 to win your casino” line. It features old time favourites Zoey Tay and Li Nanxing in them.
The Singaporean remake of Return of the Condor Heroes (1998) is also available, and it features Fann Wong and Christoper Lee.
The Price of Peace(1997) is about the Japanese occupation, and it might be a rather grim watch during Chinese New Year, but it’s bound to start some really interesting conversations between the generations.
Finally, we have Stepping Out (1999) which probably is a slightly more light-hearted watch. It documents the Chinese immigrant journey in Singapore during the 20th century.
If you think about it, the youngest of the Pioneer Generation now in their 70s, every Chinese New Year with your grandparents should be treasured. And being to have them share their experiences, memories and perspectives is something that is truly invaluable.
No physical gathering, no problem
As you can see, just because there’s no extended family gathering this year, doesn’t mean we can’t all have fun together. A little tech, creativity, and willpower is all we need.
Here’s wishing you and your family a meaningful and healthy Chinese New year!https://www.tech.gov.sg/media/technews/cny2021-digital-hacks