Sunday, January 29, 2006

Bar none

The only bar in Singapore that should remain open throughout Chinese New Year is probably Long Bar at Raffles Hotel. This is the birth place of the over-rated and over-priced Singapore Sling. At almost S$20 a pop (if I recalled correctly), this stuff is mostly just juice and, worse of all, mass produced - the main mixture is actually from a tap yet they sell by the dozens every day. One can imagine the obscene profit from this "Uniquely Singapore" experience.

The ambience in Long Bar is good, with very few, if any, SPGs to distract you from having a good time. But that's not the point. Paying customers are offered complimentary peanuts to down their suds and they are at liberty to throw the empty peanut shells on the floor without having to clean up after themselves. In fact, it has often been said that Long Bar is the only place in Singapore where you would not be fine for littering.

Since there is no immediate desire on the part of the staff to sweep the floor either, the bar can operate with no fear of breaking a traditional Chinese custom. Many older Chinese folks believe that sweeping the floor on the first day of the Lunar New Year would bring bad luck, as one would be sweeping all the good luck from the house.

There is also another reason why sweeping is discouraged. The Chinese believe that everyone deserves a rest on the first day of the Lunar New Year, as most people would have worked throughout the previous year (unlike modern times, ancient Chinese did not have many holidays). And because ubiquitous household equipment like brooms, knives and the cooking stove are considered as living things too, they are extended similar preferential treatment.

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