Chinese New Year is the major event in the Chinese calendar. The main celebration revolves around the traditional reunion dinner on the eve and the visits to relatives and friends on the first two days. Red pieces of paper, bearing good wishes in Chinese calligraphy, are pasted on doors and walls. After the reunion dinner, parents and other relatives distribute 'hong bao' (red packets containing money) to the family's unmarried children as a gesture of good fortune.
The celebrations can last for half a month, involving much feasting and social interaction. In Singapore, Chinese New Year is celebrated mainly during the two public holidays. The 15th day is observed as the close of the festive season. Chinese New Year used to be welcomed with firecrackers but the indiscriminate use of these caused severe injuries and even deaths. Firecrackers have thus been banned since the 1970s.
The exuberant Chinese New Year Chingay Procession, held since 1973, increasingly reflects the cosmopolitan vitality of the country. Chingay, which means the 'art of masquerading', has evolved into a national event featuring not only local performances but foreign items as well. Many of the other customs connected with Chinese New Year still hold a social or psychological relevance and serve to keep alive the cultural traditions of the East.