collection of lanterns during CNY

The Year of the Rabbit is fast approaching, and many of our Chinese friends are already busy preparing snacks, yusheng platters and red packets. In other news, this also means that another long weekend is on its way, and though it seems like we’ve been getting more of those than we have any right to, having more time to relax is never a bad thing.

Speaking of relaxing, for those of us who aren’t celebrating the occasion, you might be at a loss as to how you can occupy your time without having to spend a truckload of money. Fret not, though, because there’s actually a wide variety of activities that fit this exact bill.


1. Visit your friends


It’s the tale as old as time. If you can’t find anything to do alone, then the easiest solution is to head out and find some company.

Granted, most of your Chinese friends will probably be occupied with reunion dinners and visitations for the first two days, but if they do slide you an invitation to their place, you’ll want to have some mandarin oranges at the ready.

Presenting a pair of these to your host on entry symbolises well-wishing and prosperity for the household, and the recipient will usually reciprocate by resupplying you with another, different pair of oranges afterwards. It costs you nothing to be thoughtful, too, and who knows, you might even wind up receiving a red packet for your trouble!


2. Head down to Chinatown


Admittedly, this option presents a slight curveball because the best time for you to visit Chinatown, at least during this season isn’t actually during Chinese New Year itself, but just before it.

Many people usually head down to the district to stock up on goodies, red packets and other seasonal essentials before guests come to visit, and the area is often splendidly decorated too.

With 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit, you’ll probably catch a lot of motifs and designs featuring said animal, and similarly-themed trinkets are often on sale to promote good luck, health and fortune. If nothing else, the entire place is still a haven for folks with a penchant for photography, so feel free to snap away.

young girl writing

3. Read up on zodiac signs and characteristics


Apart from red packets, festive foods and house visits, Chinese New Year is also known for its heavy emphasis on astrology. From the Rat all the way up to the Pig, the Chinese believe that people exhibit certain characteristics depending on which of the 12 zodiac signs they’re born under, and these can actually be quite interesting to read about even if you don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year.

In fact, you’ll commonly find astrological predictions for each animal displayed in shopping malls all across Singapore during this period, though the unspoken rule is that you should generally take them with a pinch of salt.

Nevertheless, it’s still rather amusing to look through what potentially awaits you in 2023, and if you’re extra free, you could even check out whether your friends’ personalities line up with that of their zodiac animal. Believe us – this knowledge tends to come in handy in the most unlikely of situations, such as when you’re hunting for birthday gifts or even making recommendations for one.


4. Enjoy the Snacks (or learn to make them yourself!)


After all that brainwork, you’ve probably worked up an appetite, and the Chinese New Year period also means an abundance of snacks for you to munch on. From love letters and pineapple tarts to kueh bangkit, it’s hard to resist stuffing your cheeks during this season, and that probably goes for more than just our Chinese friends.

In fact, you could even take it one step further and learn how to make some of these snacks yourself. Although people traditionally eat them during this period, we’re sure nobody minds receiving such snacks any time of year from a good friend. Not only does this give you something to occupy your mind over the weekend (and potentially beyond), but you might even discover a hidden fondness for making these snacks – anything’s possible.


5. Play games at home


Last but not least, we have what is arguably the most textbook solution to while away a long weekend, and that’s to play some video games. To make things even more interesting, you could plug in some of that newfound zodiac knowledge to help you search for titles you (and your buddies) might like.

For example, if your friend was born in the year of the Ox, perhaps you might like to try out a co-op title like It Takes Two.

Considering such games require a lot of coordination between players, your journey will be a lot more smooth-sailing with a dependable Ox by your side. Sure, this might not be applicable 100% of the time, but at the very least, it’ll be a fun deviation from your usual gaming routines, and if you don’t have a fancy rig to work with, there’s always cloud gaming.

young man playing games on CNY

Cloud gaming in Singapore is easily accessible


As a matter of fact, games are truly easy to get your hands on these days. Modern technology affords us a lot of conveniences, and in a fast-moving society like Singapore, cloud gaming is actually within easy reach for most of us.

Games like the aforementioned It Takes Two are just the tip of the iceberg. There are over a thousand different titles available through cloud gaming, and more are being added to the repertoire on a regular basis.

Either way, we hope you’ve got some ideas as to how to make better use of your Chinese New Year break (without breaking your bank), and though they may not be the most ingenious or astounding recommendations, it’s all good as long as you enjoy yourself, no?