Update: In a clarification to TISG on Feb 3, DSTNCT, the agency-of-record for the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) said: “Regarding the specific taboo on married daughters, this taboo has also been removed from the CNY Microsite after monitoring comments from our audiences on social media.
We would also like to reassure our stance that these customs originated from a long time ago and SCCC does not advocate them, but was simply just presenting them as information from our culture and history. Our website has also been updated to further clarify this”.
Many readers especially found the reminder by Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre to married daughters to not visit their parents on the first day of Chinese New Year lest it brings bad luck and poverty to be offensive.
Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre’s (SCCC) list of Chinese New Year rules and no-nos have come under fire for being superstitious and suggesting that married daughters should be alienated during the first day of the festive period.
The SCCC is a government-backed body that promotes the Singapore Chinese way of life. It is a landmark of goodwill and friendship between Singapore and China.
It was officially opened in May 2017 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. SCCC stated mission is to collaborate with arts and cultural groups and community partners to promote and develop local Chinese culture.
The online guide is part of SCCC’s festive offerings to help Singaporeans usher in the Year of the Tiger. Since being published on Facebook on January 29 the online guide has had over 800 shares with many chiding the government-backed agency for promoting superstitious beliefs and backward thinking, especially on married daughters.
One commenter on SCCC’s Facebook post pointed out that culture and superstitions are separate and that she was shocked that Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre “would encourage people to not be clean and alienate married daughters from their families during this festive period.”
SCCC responded to the commenter saying, “The content listed on the microsite is a collection of customs and practices, which is a part of the culture and history. We would like to highlight that we are not advocating them, but simply presenting them for information.”
The commenter replied to SCCC saying its explanation was unacceptable because the “caption is far from just presenting as information.” SCCC had captioned its post as a “guide to remind you what to avoid doing this auspicious period” and asked readers to “just follow the list”.
Others asked SCCC to treat married daughters with respect and fairness. Yet others reminded SCCC that Some daughters are bringing more money home than the sons nowadays. Some said in jest that parents of married daughters struck lottery when their daughters visited them on the first day of Chinese New Year.
Some commenters took issue with other reminders on SCCC’s list, like not washing clothes, not showering and not cleaning the house.
“It is a big fat no no in today’s modern day context. Personal hygiene and cleanliness is ever more important than these so-called “traditions” or “taboos” or “superstitions” or whatever you call that. In the modern context, with this kind of hot climate, how to expect people to not shower for a few days? Even more so in the context of the ongoing Covid situation! No one wants to bring home viruses and other dirt and microbes and then not shower and wash clothes for days!”
Chinese culture is thousands of years old, and some taboos like foot-binding have long been gotten rid of. Other customs are localised in certain parts of China during a certain part of its history and not universally practiced by all Chinese. They have long been forgotten and gone in China.
Some readers have suggested to SCCC that in this 21st century one should not hold on to customs that for example, unfairly discriminate between sons and daughter, and should move on from them.