Dressing Your Home For Prosperity

Tips to keep the tradition of dressing the home for the Chinese New Year

Issue: Feb 2011

Show Living Room
Re-decorating the home during the Chinese New Year is symbolic of a fresh start and continues to be a well-kept tradition

One of the most enduring festivities almost universally observed by Chinese the world over is the Chinese New Year. So important is the occasion that long before the 15-day celebrations begin, preparations are already in full swing. And of the many practices commonly associated with the Chinese New Year, spring cleaning ranks amongst the most vital. Sweeping away the old and giving the house a thorough cleaning before the new year are all believed to help chase away the ill fortunes of the old year and usher in good luck for the year to come. The 20th day of the 12th moon (according to the Lunar calendar) is traditionally the day set aside for this.

Cushions
There’s no need for a revamp, these cushions contribute just the right touch to bringing the new year mood home

In keeping with the theme of starting afresh, after the spring cleaning comes the home makeover. From a fresh coat of paint to new furniture, new pieces of décor and even new bedding and household items, there are many ways a home can be dressed for this auspicious occasion. And sometimes, just an item or two, perfectly placed and subtly selected, are enough to introduce a touch of the Chinese New Year to the home front, according to the Tan Hui Min Home Merchandising Manager of leading department store Robinsons, anchor tenant of Raffles City Shopping Centre.

“You can make use of cushions to accessorise the living room. Cushions can make a big difference yet still allow you the flexibility to coordinate with your current décor,” says Tan.

Just for this season, Robinsons carries cushion covers in the traditional colours of red and orange that are hand embroidered with flower motifs. Flowers in bloom are associated with rebirth and new beginnings and are a favourite décor theme for the Chinese New Year. Matching table runners for the dining table are also available.

Plants Hanging Lantern
Plants are typically put around the home during the new year to symbolise new life and new beginnings
This hand-painted hanging lantern is a unique way to bring light into the home for the Chinese New Year

Beyond symbolism of a new start, some flowers are believed to be harbingers of good luck and hope, like the water narcissus and plum blossom respectively. Robinsons has its own flower arranger who can help you personalise your floral arrangement for the home. Robinsons also offers ready-made arrangements of narcissus, magnolia and cymbidium and neat little bonsai plants. For a bit of whimsy and luck, try their artificial pot of mandarin oranges (traditional symbols of wealth because of their colour that is akin to gold and their name in Chinese which sounds like “wealth”).

Introducing Chinese elements to the décor can add a hint of the Chinese New Year without overwhelming the current design of the home. Robinsons has a hand-painted hanging lantern inspired by the birdcage that is just perfect for this. The floral design in fuchsia adds a splash of colour that balances the dark wood of the birdcage.

Hues of Prosperity

Banners with couplets wishing prosperity and health are de rigueur as are paper cutouts. Robinsons up the ante with a fabric cutout embossed with the Chinese character for wealth that can be placed anywhere in the home. If, however, overt expressions are not your style, Tan has this piece of advice, “You can opt for tassels with Chinese designs. You can hang these at the windows and doorways.”

In ancient China, doors and windows were decorated with red to chase away bad luck and invite good fortune and this practice continues till today. Robinsons has a wide variety of jade and porcelain tassels for this purpose.

Tassels
Hanging and shell tassels of various colours and sizes for the windows and doors

Legend has it that the Chinese New Year celebrations originated from the triumph of villagers over the vicious Nian monster who would appear every year to terrorise the people. Its fear of the colour red and loud noises was believed to have kept the villagers safe. Since then, red has been the colour of the Chinese New Year with window panes and door frames in China painted that vibrant hue during the festivities.

But if the strong colour clashes with your home décor or if you find the colour just too much, Tan recommends using gold or orange which are just as auspicious.

Candy Dish
The Tray of Togetherness is usually filled with an assortment of sweet treats for a sweet start to the new year

Service Up in Style

Food features prominently in the Chinese New Year celebrations. And one way to decorate the home is to use new year inspired motifs in the serving dishes and trays. At Robinsons, you can pick up a fine bone china tea set and candy tray in classic blue with floral motif to serve the new year goodies in. Lacquered candy boxes with a cherry blossom design are also available. Since this is the Year of the Rabbit, glass plates with the Chinese zodiac animal in red and gold can also be found.

With so many options and ideas, there is just no good reason this year not to give your home a facelift to ring in the new and keep traditions of old alive.

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