Today is Li Chun (立春), a special day marked by the Chinese community around the world. Historically, Li Chun is the day, marking the first period of the Solar Terms where which is a calendar of twenty-four periods and climate to govern agricultural arrangements in ancient China, and the start of Spring.
In the old days, as people are generally farmers, they often celebrate the beginning of Lichun with special village events, worship and offerings to the gods and ceremonies for a blissful and prosperous new year. But as societies and way of life for the people have changed so has the form of celebrating this special day.
In Singapore, we have this unique practice of depositing money at a specific timing. (As documented on Wikipedia).
As seen in social media postings over the recent years, Chinese Singaporeans willingly and happily queue up in long snaking lines on Li Chun to withdraw and deposit money from ATMs, with many trying to meet the timings as specified in the circulated charts based on their Chinese Zodiac. This is in the belief that by depositing money into their bank accounts on Li Chun and at the specific timing, one's wealth and prosperity will be boosted for the rest of the year.
So given that this practice had not been observed only till recent years, what did these people based their belief on?
Well, if one trace back using internet records, the culprit to this urban myth is the image below.
(A Facebook post by Channel 8 noting that the trend started in 2014, through this image.)
The image writes, "We had been doing this, the last few years and our wealth did grow. Over the years, many became millionaires (cash rich) and much more." and shows a chart which indicate the timings to deposit money for the various Chinese zodiac.
According to internet records, the image is actually a photo of a powerpoint slide shown during a Fengshui seminar in 2014 and shared via WhatsApp and made its round among the population. (The hardwarezone discussion on this, for some reasons, had been deleted)
An account which sheds light as to how the trend started can be seen in a recollection by a blogger who documented her experience in 2014, noting that she had been informed of the timing by her friend who posted the image up on Facebook and was spurred by friends in her Whatsapp group to go deposit money into the bank. A story which likely would have been repeated with many other Chinese Singaporeans, resulting in the island-wide practice of depositing money.
Then came 2015, an excel sheet of the timing was shared around with people still not questioning where this sheet came from and why is there this practice out of the sudden.
Realise that deposit machines at banks all damn long queue today? Its cause of this. pic.twitter.com/1EcyV7ebv9
— zaииєy (@rzngo_) February 4, 2015
By 2016, this belief became mainstream with certain Fengshui practitioners posting their version of the timing and publications posting their own versions of the timing. Again people shared without questions.
So you may ask, "Is this really an urban myth?" To set the record right, here are examples of experts saying so:
Dato Joey Yap, a leading authority in Feng Shui from Malaysia, has this to say about the practice to deposit money on Li Chun, "Let me reassure you that this is absolute rubbish. you don't have to just do banking or deposit money on 4 Feb, the first day of the Chinese New Year, it is absolutely untrue. There is a difference between general superstition and actual practice of metaphysics. He goes on to say, "The actual usage of date and time in Chinese metaphysics is selecting the right date and time for activation of positive energy" and states that depositing money on Li Chun has absolutely zero impact on the year for any individual.
Back in 2016, The New Paper quoted Fengshui master Adelina Pang who has been in the industry for more than 18 years, "Someone invented this belief of depositing money on Li Chun for good wealth and now, it has become the talk of the town...In pure fengshui, there is no such thing as depositing money on that day for good wealth." While Fengshui master David Tong, who has been in the industry for 11 years, explains,"Li Chun just marks the beginning of spring and a year of transition."
Lianhe Zaobao also ran an article, quoting Fengshui practitioners about how there is no basis for the belief that there is a lucky timing for depositing of money on Li Chun and that the belief is nonsense and has no basis in Chinese metaphysics.
While a good saving practice is good to nurture among the community but the way how people adopted a "custom" by mere belief and herd mentality through social media is pretty alarming.
Many of my friends have said, "It is just for fun", "No harm trying" and other things which suggested that it was ok to adopt a belief since there is no harm. But given that Fengshui masters (who are supposed to know their stuff) have already expressed their opinions about depositing money on Li Chun, why is there still an insistence to follow a practice that has no basis to it?
Perhaps this is one aspect of the society which we can call, "Uniquely Singapore"