Although many of us are looking forward to another round of celebrations this Chinese New Year, COVID-19 cases have started to peak again due to the rise of some of the virus’s new variants. For most of us, this may mean having to return to strict isolation protocols or social distancing practices.
But despite the apparent gloom of it all, we are actually lucky to be living in an era where digital and modern tech has enabled us to continue doing our essential activities and day-to-day routines, a lot of which could also be used to continue our Chinese New Year traditions in spite of this persisting pandemic. So, here’s a list of some of things to remind us how we can still keep 2022’s Lunar New Year alive from the comfort of our homes:
Tech and media for Ang Pao-giving and get-togethers
In keeping with a beloved tradition often practiced this season, handing-out Ang Pao’s to dear nieces, nephews, and apo’s with the pandemic ongoing might have become a challenge. But thanks to great innovations in fintech, we are able to digitize our Ang Pao-giving instead. Popular e-wallet apps like GCash and PayMaya allow us to do this with their quick and convenient “Send Money” feature.
Moreover, such e-wallets can even specialize said feature to suit an occasion, allowing users to customize and add themes to the virtual “envelopes” where their money will be sent in, or even create a personalized message along with the money gift. Although it is GCash that is most known locally for their “send Ang Pao” campaign, we have yet to see how they will bring the delight of their Ang Pao feature again this coming February 2022. Nonetheless, fintech brings a nifty substitute to the good old, carefully prepared red envelopes that usually go around this season.
Photo credit from PayMaya App
Photo credit from GCash Facebook Page, posted February 10, 2021
Meeting up with friends and family for our traditional Chinese New Year gatherings can also be tough to do nowadays with many physical restrictions in place. Luckily, online video calling tech like Zoom and Discord have made getting together with others virtually possible. Thanks to these accessible platforms, we can set-up meetings with ease, hop in and out of video calls at our own convenience, and even watch and listen to the same things at the same time with others (something popularly termed as a “watchparty”).
Functions like these allow us to make a little shift in the way our traditions are enjoyed. For example, rather than physically going out to watch the firework shows and dragon dances that typically go on in our neighborhoods, we can plan virtual “watchparties” instead of Chinese New Year specials and spectacles that can easily be found online, mostly in YouTube. These include videos that showcase media-covered performances, fireworks and dragon dance showcases around the world, and even walking tours that all commemorate the occasion.
Photo credit from CGTN YouTube Channel, “2021 Spring Festival Gala: When pop music meets high-tech”. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/h5aItq9bedQ
Photo credit from Asia HOT YouTube Channel, “Chinese New Year 2019 Lion Dance, Hong Kong”. Check out the video here: https://youtu.be/Bs0GuU0cUtw
Delivery services for traditional Chinese feasts
Speaking of get-togethers, it is also custom for most of us to prepare and partake in Chinese dishes — like the fan-favorite tikoy, dumplings, and noodles just to name a few — with loved ones to welcome the Lunar New Year. However, there’s a high chance again that this year, we either won’t have the same time and resources as last time to prepare such food or we won’t be able to physically gather with others to enjoy a traditional feast as we used to.
Luckily, in these cases, we can always rely on delivery services to do just the job for our traditional Chinese cravings. For one, there are always Chinese platters that we can order online through food delivery applications like Grab Food and Foodpanda or even from services that are directly from the food establishments themselves. But on another hand, if we prefer to send others our own deliciously homemade creations instead, we can use regular courier services like Lalamove that have systems in place to handle on-demand food deliveries properly.
Photo credit from Chowking PH Instagram
More than this, by using a combination of these delivery services and video-calling platforms, we can still enjoy eating together with friends and family. This means that we can plan what food will be sent over to them and, at the same time, plan when we can meet-up with them online to enjoy a traditional Chinese feast together.
Digital versions of traditional Chinese games
If playing traditional Chinese games is also a custom for those of us here celebrating Chinese New Year, then there are many sites online that let us do this at the comfort of our own homes. Examples of such are sites like playmahjong.io (https://playmahjong.io/) and PlayOK (https://www.playok.com/en/xiangqi/). Because of these, we are not just lucky to have games like Mahjong and Chinese Chess converted into a digital, free-to-play format, but we are also given the option to invite chosen others to play rounds or tournaments with us in real-time.
Photo credit from playmahjong.io
So let’s not despair with our celebrations this Chinese New Year. Despite still being in the pandemic, we are quite lucky to have lots of things within our reach to help us welcome the Year of the Tiger — though in a different, socially distanced way — with the same tradition and glee that we usually have this season.