Wednesday 18 February 2015

Why does Chinese New Year seem so quiet this year?

Chinese New Year will be here tomorrow.


As I've written before (and got flak for it), I'm no fan of Chinese New Year.

But I've noticed that this year, ithe celebrations seem relatively muted (for which I'm grateful).

Makansutra's KF Seetoh also made a similar observation on Facebook:

Some attribute the lack of "CNY spirit" to businesses not wanting to pay the royalties for playing CNY songs. The flaw in the theory is that this requirement has been around for years.

This Sunday Times report is from 4 Feb 2007:

Copyright rules mean even small shops & eateries must pay up if they want to play CNY songs
Did you spot me in the Stop Shop Theft video by the Singapore Police Force?
Pay - if you want to play Chinese New Year songs in your shop, restuarant or hair salon.

This is even if you do so for a short period during the run-up to the celebration. That's the stand of the Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (Compass), a non-profit organisation which protects the copyright interests of composers, authors and publishers of musical works.

It collects, & distributes, royalities to them.

Compass spokesman Gerald Ng says a fee must be paid "whether they play music 2 weeks in a year during Chinese New Year or the whole year round".

An annual licence is required to broadcast music. And the rule doesn't just apply to nightclubs or KTV lounges. It also affects all commercial outlets that play recorded music - even neighbourhood stores, coffee shops and hair salons.

The cost can range from $195 for a small eatery with 32 seats to about $16,000 for a large mall with 20,000 sq m of pedestrian space.

An operator of an average-sized coffee shop with 90 seats will have to pay $380, or risk a fine not exceeding $20,000, a jail term of up to 2 years, or both.

How strictly does Compass enforce this? I don't know, but I'm unaware of any clampdown this year or last year. So why should it be a factor now?

There also isn't a recession (at least not yet) like in 2009, so you can't blame the economy.

My wife says it's because the Year of the Goat (or Sheep or Ram or Yak, whatever) isn't very popular, unlike say the Year of the Dragon or Horse.

Yes, it does seem to get more festive when it's the Year of the Dragon, but that doesn't mean it gets less festive in other years — it's just the usual level of festivities.

My own theory is that the this year's CNY feels rather subdued because it comes too late in the calender year — Feb 19, ie tomorrow.

In the years when CNY was in January, I have seen retailers quickly switch their Christmas decorations to CNY decorations even before December was over to cram as much pre-CNY promotion as they could in the few weeks they had.

But when you have more than seven long weeks from Christmas to CNY (with Valentine's Day in between), there is less urgency to go all out for CNY — and hence, less impact.

In fact, CNY has never come this late in the year since 1996, the last time the holiday fell on Feb 19. Anyone remember how low key it was then?

Or more recently in 2007 when CNY was on Feb 18, just a day earlier?

For an even later date, you have to go all the way back to 1985 when the first day of CNY was Feb 20.

Check out the chart below from

YearChinese New Year DateAnimal Sign
19301930-01-29Horse (1930-01-29—1931-02-16)
19311931-02-17Sheep (1931-02-17—1932-02-05)
19321932-02-06Monkey (1932-02-06—1933-01-25)
19331933-01-26Rooster (1933-01-26—1934-02-13)
19341934-02-14Dog (1934-02-14—1935-02-03)
19351935-02-04Pig (1935-02-04—1936-01-23)
19361936-01-24Rat (1936-01-24—1937-02-10)
19371937-02-11Ox (1937-02-11—1938-01-30)
19381938-01-31Tiger (1938-01-31—1939-02-18)
19391939-02-19Rabbit (1939-02-19—1940-02-07)
19401940-02-08Dragon (1940-02-08—1941-01-26)
19411941-01-27Snake (1941-01-27—1942-02-14)
19421942-02-15Horse (1942-02-15—1943-02-03)
19431943-02-04Sheep (1943-02-04—1944-01-24)
19441944-01-25Monkey (1944-01-25—1945-02-12)
19451945-02-13Rooster (1945-02-13—1946-01-31)
19461946-02-01Dog (1946-02-01—1947-01-21)
19471947-01-22Pig (1947-01-22—1948-02-09)
19481948-02-10Rat (1948-02-10—1949-01-28)
19491949-01-29Ox (1949-01-29—1950-02-16)
19501950-02-17Tiger (1950-02-17—1951-02-05)
19511951-02-06Rabbit (1951-02-06—1952-01-26)
19521952-01-27Dragon (1952-01-27—1953-02-13)
19531953-02-14Snake (1953-02-14—1954-02-02)
19541954-02-03Horse (1954-02-03—1955-01-23)
19551955-01-24Sheep (1955-01-24—1956-02-11)
19561956-02-12Monkey (1956-02-12—1957-01-30)
19571957-01-31Rooster (1957-01-31—1958-02-17)
19581958-02-18Dog (1958-02-18—1959-02-07)
19591959-02-08Pig (1959-02-08—1960-01-27)
19601960-01-28Rat (1960-01-28—1961-02-14)
19611961-02-15Ox (1961-02-15—1962-02-04)
19621962-02-05Tiger (1962-02-05—1963-01-24)
19631963-01-25Rabbit (1963-01-25—1964-02-12)
19641964-02-13Dragon (1964-02-13—1965-02-01)
19651965-02-02Snake (1965-02-02—1966-01-20)
19661966-01-21Horse (1966-01-21—1967-02-08)
19671967-02-09Sheep (1967-02-09—1968-01-29)
19681968-01-30Monkey (1968-01-30—1969-02-16)
19691969-02-17Rooster (1969-02-17—1970-02-05)
19701970-02-06Dog (1970-02-06—1971-01-26)
19711971-01-27Pig (1971-01-27—1972-02-14)
19721972-02-15Rat (1972-02-15—1973-02-02)
19731973-02-03Ox (1973-02-03—1974-01-22)
19741974-01-23Tiger (1974-01-23—1975-02-10)
19751975-02-11Rabbit (1975-02-11—1976-01-30)
19761976-01-31Dragon (1976-01-31—1977-02-17)
19771977-02-18Snake (1977-02-18—1978-02-06)
19781978-02-07Horse (1978-02-07—1979-01-27)
19791979-01-28Sheep (1979-01-28—1980-02-15)
19801980-02-16Monkey (1980-02-16—1981-02-04)
19811981-02-05Rooster (1981-02-05—1982-01-24)
19821982-01-25Dog (1982-01-25—1983-02-12)
19831983-02-13Pig (1983-02-13—1984-02-01)
19841984-02-02Rat (1984-02-02—1985-02-19)
19851985-02-20Ox (1985-02-20—1986-02-08)
19861986-02-09Tiger (1986-02-09—1987-01-28)
19871987-01-29Rabbit (1987-01-29—1988-02-16)
19881988-02-17Dragon (1988-02-17—1989-02-05)
19891989-02-06Snake (1989-02-06—1990-01-26)
19901990-01-27Horse (1990-01-27—1991-02-14)
19911991-02-15Sheep (1991-02-15—1992-02-03)
19921992-02-04Monkey (1992-02-04—1993-01-22)
19931993-01-23Rooster (1993-01-23—1994-02-09)
19941994-02-10Dog (1994-02-10—1995-01-30)
19951995-01-31Pig (1995-01-31—1996-02-18)
19961996-02-19Rat (1996-02-19—1997-02-06)
19971997-02-07Ox (1997-02-07—1998-01-27)
19981998-01-28Tiger (1998-01-28—1999-02-15)
19991999-02-16Rabbit (1999-02-16—2000-02-04)
20002000-02-05Dragon (2000-02-05—2001-01-23)
20012001-01-24Snake (2001-01-24—2002-02-11)
20022002-02-12Horse (2002-02-12—2003-01-31)
20032003-02-01Sheep (2003-02-01—2004-01-21)
20042004-01-22Monkey (2004-01-22—2005-02-08)
20052005-02-09Rooster (2005-02-09—2006-01-28)
20062006-01-29Dog (2006-01-29—2007-02-17)
20072007-02-18Pig (2007-02-18—2008-02-06)
20082008-02-07Rat (2008-02-07—2009-01-25)
20092009-01-26Ox (2009-01-26—2010-02-13)
20102010-02-14Tiger (2010-02-14—2011-02-02)
20112011-02-03Rabbit (2011-02-03—2012-01-22)
20122012-01-23Dragon (2012-01-23—2013-02-09)
20132013-02-10Snake (2013-02-10—2014-01-30)
20142014-01-31Horse (2014-01-31—2015-02-18)
20152015-02-19Sheep (2015-02-19—2016-02-07)
20162016-02-08Monkey (2016-02-08—2017-01-27)
20172017-01-28Rooster (2017-01-28—2018-02-15)
20182018-02-16Dog (2018-02-16—2019-02-04)
20192019-02-05Pig (2019-02-05—2020-01-24)
20202020-01-25Rat (2020-01-25—2021-02-11)
20212021-02-12Ox (2021-02-12—2022-01-31)
20222022-02-01Tiger (2022-02-01—2023-01-21)
20232023-01-22Rabbit (2023-01-22—2024-02-09)
20242024-02-10Dragon (2024-02-10—2025-01-28)
20252025-01-29Snake (2025-01-29—2026-02-16)
20262026-02-17Horse (2026-02-17—2027-02-05)
20272027-02-06Sheep (2027-02-06—2028-01-25)
20282028-01-26Monkey (2028-01-26—2029-02-12)
20292029-02-13Rooster (2029-02-13—2030-02-02)
20302030-02-03Dog (2030-02-03—2031-01-22)

I think I prefer CNY to come before Valentine's Day, so that we can get it over with as quickly possible. This year, it already feels like CNY has been going on forever.

Like I said, Chinese New Year will be here tomorrow.


EARLIER: Skip Chinese New Year? I tried