Happy Chinese New Year
Each year Chinese New Year is celebrated at the beginning of the lunar calendar which typically falls between mid-January and mid-February. Traditionally observance of the new year begins the evening preceding the first day of the lunar new year and continues until the 15th day of the year.
Here we will share some traditions and superstitions for the upcoming celebration so everyone can join in and get the year off to a good start.
Good Luck for the New Year
- Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
- Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the New Year.
- Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
- It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning the house on or after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
- Some believe that what happens on the first day of the New Year reflects the rest of the year to come. Chinese people will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
- Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the New Year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
- The night before the New Year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the New Year.
- Changing different things in the house such as blankets, clothes, mattress covers etc. is also a well-respected tradition in terms of cleaning the house in preparation for the New Year.
Bad Luck for the New Year
- Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The character for "shoe" (鞋) is a homophone for the character 諧/谐, which means "rough" in Cantonese; in Mandarin it is also a homophone for the character for "evil" (邪).
- Getting a haircut in the first lunar month puts a curse on maternal uncles. Therefore, people get a haircut before the New Year's Eve.
- Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
- Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the New Year.
- Saying words like "finished" and "gone" is inauspicious on the New Year, so sometimes people would avoid these words by saying "I have completed eating my meal" rather than say "I have finished my meal."
- Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious.
- Buying (or reading) books is bad luck because the character for "book" (書/书) is a homonym to the character for "lose" (輸/输).
- Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional Chinese funeral color.
- Foul language is inappropriate during the Chinese New Year.
- Offering anything in fours, as the number four (四), pronounced sì, can sound like "death" (死), in Chinese. Pronunciations given here are for Mandarin, but the two words are also homophones in Cantonese. See tetraphobia.
- One should never buy a clock for someone or for oneself because a clock in Chinese tradition means one's life is limited or "the end," which is also forbidden.
- Avoid medicine and medicine related activities (at least on the first day) as it will give a bad fortune on one's health and lessen the luck one can obtain from New Years.
For more information about Chinese New Year visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_New_Year.
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