Monday, February 14, 2022

Light A New Lantern!

 Ovidia--Every Other Tuesday

Today, 15 February, is Yuan Xiao (元宵节 / yuán xiāo jié) the Lantern Festival, which marks the final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Light a new lantern and let it show you the way towards all the things you hope for this new year! (I don't have a lantern handy so I’ll be using a candle)

 After the lantern festival, the Chinese New Year starts in earnest as everyone goes back to work. Taboos are no longer in effect and the new year decorations can be taken down.

Some more traditional people wait till after the Lantern Festival to start on new work or life projects!

The lanterns also symbolise letting go of the past year, which is necessary to welcome good fortune into your new year. Legend has it that the Jade Emperor intended to destroy a village with fire on the fifteenth day of the lunar year. However, the Jade Emperor’s daughter warned the villagers in time and the enterprising villagers hung red lanterns all over the village to give the impression that it was already in flames… and the Jade Emperor was fooled and the villagers survived. 

The lesson? Fake it and you might make it, maybe? Anyway, celebrate surviving the night by making a new start.

It’s also a romantic time. In Ancient China, the Lantern Festival was the only time of year when women could mix freely with men with everyone going outdoors with lanterns to wish a year of good fortune on everyone else. 

Normally there are lanterns and celebrations all over. But Covid has taken its toll. 

And I don’t really feel like celebrating because Xiao Huang (literally ‘little yellow’, my Honda Jazz), is fifteen years old today and though she still runs fine, she’s run out of time.

In Singapore, having a valid COE (Certificate of Entitlement) is mandatory. It’s part of a quota system meant to price people out of cars and into public transport. The goal of the system is to limit vehicle sales. Every new car registered requires a COE so the LTA can control sales directly. If it allows 2,000 new vehicles to be sold this month, it’ll release 2,000 COEs.

These are the rates for now:

COE Category

CAR UP TO 1600CC & 97KW

Quota Premium
Bids Received
$56,670 (Feb)
$80,583 (Feb)

And that's in addition to what you pay for the car!

Your first COE is valid for 10 years and then you can renew it for either 5 years or 10 years but never again. I (short-sightedly) picked 5 years, so it’s goodbye time.
I can understand the strictures. Despite our small size, there are nearly a million vehicles on Singapore roads this year—and our roads take up 12% of our total land area, a far higher percentage than most other countries.
But understanding doesn’t make it any easier to let Xiao Huang go.

When I got Xiao Huang, I was still having some difficulty walking after an accident, so a big plus was her spacious boot which easily contained my walking frame folded up, and I’d drive her with my walking stick by my side.
This little yellow car saw me through my recovery and my shift from writing plays to writing books. It was thanks to Xiao Huang that I could volunteer at the SPCA and that I came to adopt Princess and Hermione… and drive them to dog runs and dog cafes all over the island!

Hermione (on left) and Princess a couple of years back, exhausted after a day out at the dog park.

Xiao Huang was the faithful steed I took for granted throughout my 50’s. Now I’m 60 years old and I’ll be learning to use public transport again. Which isn’t a terrible thing—I’ve qualified for my Silver Passion card (discount travel pass) and it’s amazing how cheaply I can travel around now!

And there are other things to look forward to too. 
In the spirit of lighting a new lantern/ starting something new I hadn’t done before, I’ve started to take dance classes with some friends. We’ve known each other since we were six years old and as far as I can see, none of us has changed at all. But the first lesson brought it home (somewhat painfully) that our hopscotch days are far behind. We're far from swan-like at the moment, but we’ve signed on for a term and if I survive to write about it, I will!

(It’s a programme called Silver Swans)


  1. Enjoy your dance classes, always wonderful to hear people starting new things - and sorry you are losing your Jazz. They are the most spacious little things, aren't they? I'm on my second one.

  2. Good retirement, Xiao Huang. It is always so hard to let good friends go.

  3. Would anyone be interested in acquiring a 2000 Ford 250 V-10 Superduty? Just asking. I dare not think what the Quota Premium would be on that trusty old pick-up.