10 Do's And Don'ts You Should Know About Chinese New Year By Now
To ensure a prosperous year ahead, here are some of the reasons and curses behind the Chinese New Year (CNY) taboos that we've come to know since young:
1. Do not cut or wash your hair throughout CNY
In Mandarin, 'hair' (fa, 发) sounds like 'wealth' (fa cai, 发财), so absolutely do not cut your hair in the two weeks that is CNY, or you would also be cutting away all the prosperity that the celebration brings.
The taboo also stands that we should not wash our hair. However, it only applies to the first two days of the festive season.
2. Do not break anything ceramic or glass
This should not only be a Chinese New Year superstition, but maybe a good habit to follow. It goes without saying that we should be more careful while handling tableware when serving guests or during a family dinner!
The taboo goes that when something is broken in the house, bad things may happen to a family member or loved one.
3. Do not sweep the floor or throw out the trash
We have all heard this one before. If we sweep the dust and dirt or throw away the trash, it would also symbolise that we are throwing away good luck and fortune from the house.
Pro tip: You can still clean the house as usual with a vacuum cleaner! Only empty the bag when CNY is over, that way, fortune stays in your house for as long as possible.
4. Do not wear old, torn, or black and white clothes
This taboo was probably made by parents over generations, wanting their children to dress up for this special occasion when family and friends come from all over to visit.
Traditionally though, black and white are colours of mourning while wearing old or torn clothes is a harbinger for poverty.
5. Do not buy new shoes
In Cantonese, 'shoes' (hai) has the same pronunciation as the word 'rough' (hai), said softly, it also sounds like sighing.
You do not want to start the new year off with sighing, nor do you want a rough beginning, so wait until the end of the holidays to get yourself a new pair of sneakers.
6. Do not wake up a sleeping relative
If you ever feel like you need to sleep in or take a nap after all the feasts and house-visiting, go to sleep with peace of mind knowing that you should not be suddenly jolted up by your family.
As the belief goes, the one woken up will then be rushed around and bossed around for the rest of the year. But after all, it is the holidays and we all deserve the rest.
7. Do not eat porridge on the first day of CNY
Although porridge is currently known more as a comfort food, it was once seen as only sustenance for the poor. The Chinese believe to stay away from porridge during the festive season because it would mean they will stay poor for the rest of the year.
8. Eat plenty of fish during the festive season
There is a phrase in Mandarin that goes "nian nian you yu, 年年有余" or "may every year bring you abundance".
'Fish' (yu, 鱼) has the same sound as 'abundance' (yu, 余), so basically it is a witty Chinese pun and a delicious superstition to uphold.
9. Stay up into the night of CNY eve
Chinese families usually stay up late to spend time together after the reunion dinner anyway to watch fireworks at midnight.
However, the taboo comes because this tradition sounds like 'holding onto age' or 'shou sui' in Mandarin. The belief goes that the longer you stay up, the longer life your parents would have.
10. Wake up early on the first day of CNY
Not just any taboo, waking up early on the first day is also a sign of respect to your family. More importantly, the morning of the first day is usually when parents start giving their children ang pows.