A multicultural nation, Singapore celebrates different kinds of festivities all year round. Deepavali, Christmas, and yes, Chinese New Year — one of the most important festivals for the Chinese, not just in Singapore, but also in countries like Korea, China and Malaysia. Stretching over 15 days, the celebrations are robust with countdown parties, family gatherings, as well as chomping down on sinfully delicious goodies.
Usually gobbled down without a second thought, most Chinese New Year goodies hold more significance to the occasion than you may know. Inspired by many things including Chinese auspicious beliefs, Malay and Peranakan culture (we did say we’re a multicultural city) and legendary love affairs, uncover the stories behind some of these snacks and find out where to try them at Changi Airport.
Pineapple tarts — for a prosperous year ahead
Created by Peranakans (ethnic Chinese with Malay influences) pineapple tarts are painstakingly made by slow cooking pineapple extracts over a low fire until it is perfectly caramelised, then wrapped around a buttery pastry. In Hokkien (a Chinese dialect), pineapple is referred to as ‘ong lai’, which literally translates to ‘fortune come’. Thus, the pastries are thought to bring prosperity and luck to whoever consumes them.
Another popular version of pineapple tarts includes the open-concept where the jam sits on the pastry
Kueh Bangkit — to rise against all odds
Another Chinese New Year snack with a Peranakan origin,
Fun fact: In the past, Kueh bangkit was made in the shape of ancient China’s currency and used as ancestral offering
Bak Kwa — even Lady Luck can’t resist
In Chinese culture, red signifies luck and fortune. Bak
Bak kwa was first created in Fujian, China, where meat was considered a luxury and kept for special occasions
Love letters — do we smell romance in the air?
Village girls weren’t allowed to meet with boys in the past, so they would roll secret love letters into wafer biscuits and pass them on — giving rise to the snack’s name today. When your partner eats it, it also means to say that he or she has taken your word to heart. So remember to check the roll before you pop it into your mouth, you might receive a love letter of your own in one of them!
Love Letters are commonly rolled into cigar shapes or folded into a triangular fan-like shape
Shrimp rolls — for your happy ever after
Be it the colour, shape or ingredients used, almost everything consumed during Chinese New Year have underlying significance. In this case, more commonly known as
If you’re one to take spicy food, go ahead and try the shrimp rolls made with sambal (chilli)
Exclusively for Now Boarding readers
Where to get these treats in Changi Airport
Start the festive snacking the moment you land, or stock up on the goodies before you depart to share them with your loved ones back home! Whichever you do, here’s a list of places you can get your hands on these Chinese New Year treats.
Whether you believe in the auspicious