The Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is almost here. Commencing on Friday 12 2021, the year of the Ox, it’s a time for families to get together, a week of official public holidays in most Asian countries. Typical traditions include spending time with family, red décor in homes, watching a traditional dance or fireworks show, clearing out last year’s clutter and enjoying festive treat
Whilst Chinese enjoy the festive activities, they believe there are specific customs to follow during the Chinese New Year in order to bring good fortune, prosperity and happiness. Here are some dos and don’ts.
Do: Wear Metal
As this is the year of the metal ox, wearing metal accessories such as earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings will bring good luck and ward off bad luck.
Do: Clean the house
Cleaning your home before the new year helps prevent bad luck collected throughout the year and encourages good fortune for the new year. Chinese in general believe that good luck flows through and around the house, therefore any cleaning on the New Year’s Day will wash away the good luck required for wealth and prosperity.
Do: Buy New Clothing
At the beginning of the Chinese New Year, everything will be renewed and a new atmosphere will come from inside to outside. Therefore, Chinese believe wearing new clothing will ward off the evil and get good blessings. In terms of colours, choose red as it is a good luck colour in Chinese culture. Red stands for prosperity, loyalty, success and happiness. Other bright colours are also lucky if red is not your style.
Chinese New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, family members are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families. The dinner is called a reunion dinner and is believed to be the most important meal of the year.
Lucky food is eaten during the festive season, and particularly at the New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner.
The lucky food (and their symbolic meanings) are:
- Fish (an increase in prosperity)
- Chinese Dumplings (great wealth)
- Glutinous Rice Cakes (a higher income or position)
- Sweet Rice Balls – Family Togetherness
- Longevity Noodles – Happiness and Longevity
Do: Give (receive) red envelopes
Just like Christmas in other countries, Chinese exchange gifts during the New Year. The most common New Year gifts are called “lai see” in Cantonese and “hong bao” in Mandarin. These are usually red envelopes containing money in them. This custom is believed by Chinese to bring good luck, remembering that the colour red is a lucky colour. Parents generally give their children red envelopes after the reunion dinner, wishing them health, growth, and a successful education in the coming year. Elders and married people also give red envelopes to unmarried adults and children.
Don’t do any cleaning otherwise you’ll be sweeping away possible wealth.
Don’t: Give Unlucky Gifts
Invited to a New Year dinner? But be sure not to bring:
Sharp objects – sharp items such as scissors, knives imply the cutting of ties.
Handkerchiefs – symbolise “goodbye forever” since they’re typically given out at funerals.
Anything to do with the number four – as it has the same pronunciation as “death”
Shoes – The word for shoes is homonym for “evil”
Clocks – the phrase “give a clock” sounds very similar to “attend a funeral”
Don’t : Use Unlucky words
Don’t say unlucky words such as death, dying, ghost, or the number four.