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     FrontPage Edition: Mon 14 February 2005

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Chinese New Year merry-making

Hallo everyone

Did you enjoy your Chinese New Year holidays? Well, the Chinese here have been merry-making the past week. With the first day of Chinese New Year falling on a Wednesday, it meant that the rest of the week till Sunday was a super-long weekend for much of Singapore's population.
Though there was school on Friday, attendance was less than half in many classes, whether they be in the primary, secondary or junior college levels.
It is said that the Chinese have a propensity for gambling. Chinese New Year is that festive season when everyone, whether gambler or non-gambler, partakes in a tradition that transcends generations. Children and adults put moral rulebooks at the back of their minds as they gamely sit in a circle on the floor of the living room, indulging in games of Blackjack or some other games.
That's when the gambling streak in everyone shows up, albeit for a fortnight till Chap Goh Meh*. That's also when parents tolerate gambling among their young. In fact, many parents, grandparents, and their children join the gambling sessions that go on in almost every Chinese household across the island, and the world.
With the current TOTO jackpot standing at S$3,888,000, long queues have begun forming at the local betting outlets in town. The annual TOTO Hongbao draw on Thursday, 17 Feb 2005, with its jackpot prize of S$10 million, has resulted in queues at betting outlets snaking out of the outlets into the surrounding areas.
What am I saying? That we are a nation of gamblers? No. Not that, certainly. It's just that we, Chinese, are in a celebratory spirit during the Chinese New Year. It's that time of the year when tradition takes hold and we all put aside our anti-gambling principles and indulge in merry-making to our hearts' content.
Once the fifteen days of the Chinese New Year are over, we will return to our old reserved, closeted selves. So, in the meantime, we are all just having fun!
Chap Goh Meh falls on 23 Feb 2005. That means another weekend of gaming sessions for many, many Singaporeans. Most Chinese will not want to be left out of the fun, for it will mean waiting till the next Chinese New Year before they can let go of their self-imposed moral restraints.
In a rat-race society such as ours, being able to set ourselves free of our inhibitions, albeit for two weeks, does wonders for our stressed-out minds. Don't you agree?
* 15th day of Chinese New Year

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