Chinese New Year (CNY), like most cultural celebrations is marked by a whole list of dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts!) for those who celebrate it.
This is because it is a festival that is celebrated to usher in a new year of happiness, prosperity, health and good fortune.
In line with that, many people take purposeful steps to not do anything that might be taboo as they don’t want to risk doing anything that might bring them bad luck in the new year.
So, in case you were wondering about what to AVOID doing this CNY for a banging year ahead, keep reading!
1. Saying negative things
Before thinking about your actions, pay attention to your words first! Avoid saying words with negative meanings like death, sickness, poverty and ghosts.
Instead, use euphemisms such as, “They’ve passed” to replace, “They’ve died”. It is also believed that you should avoid books or any mention of them, especially when your elders are playing mahjong because the pronunciation for the word “lose” (输) is the same as the word “book” (书) in the Chinese language.
It looks like the TikTokers are not the only ones who believe in manifestation!
2. Cleaning the house
While it could be tempting to keep your house spotless for guests this CNY, is it really worth the potential loss of fortune?
People are advised against doing any house cleaning during CNY because sweeping the floor, taking out the trash and pouring water outside symbolise the getting rid of the household’s wealth and good luck.
That’s why we do spring cleaning before CNY! To remove all of the previous year’s misfortune.
3. Washing your hair and clothes
Similar to house cleaning, it is advised not to wash or cut your hair on the first day of CNY because it can wash away your fortune for the next 364 days. In the Chinese language, the same character is used for “hair” (发) and “getting rich” (发财).
Some people even go to the extent of not washing their clothes for the first two days of CNY because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of the Water God. Since water symbolises wealth, pouring away water after washing your clothes can offend the Water God and indicate a pouring away of wealth.
4. Eating porridge and having an empty rice barrel
Porridge is known as a poor man’s food because in the past, poor people could only afford rice porridge. So, it is believed that one should avoid eating porridge on the first day of CNY because it could be an omen of a life of starvation and poverty in the year ahead.
In the same vein, make sure to fill up your rice container on CNY eve because a full rice barrel is synonymous to a stable and healthy financial situation.
5. Lending and borrowing money
If you owe anyone money, it is a common practice to proactively settle your debts before CNY because asking for the return of debts is considered offensive. Additionally, you should avoid borrowing money on the first day of CNY because lending money is seen as an unlucky omen indicating economic loss.
6. Taking medicine and going to the hospital
It is advisable not to brew herbal medicine, consume any medicine or go to the hospital during CNY unless absolutely necessary because they could mean that you’d be plagued by sickness all year without properly recovering.
7. Using scissors and needles
The usage of scissors and needles during CNY is not encouraged because it is thought that it would bring about quarrels with others. So, if you’re trying to keep your peace in 2023 and not argue with your family, neighbours, colleagues and others, avoid scissors and needles during CNY!
8. Breaking objects
Breaking symbolises incompleteness and bad luck. It is believed that the breaking of a bowl, plate or glass during CNY can lead to monetary loss, misfortune and family breakdown.
If you do accidentally break something, the best way to salvage the situation is to supposedly use a red paper or cloth to clean up the shards of glass and to say “Sui Sui Ping An”, which means safe and sound all year round.
9. Wearing ragged, black or white clothes
While sentiments surrounding this taboo has changed over time with most people not really caring about what you wear during CNY, there’re still some people from older generations who believe that one shouldn’t wear black and white, as well as old clothes during CNY festivities.
This is because black and white are traditionally associated with funerals and mourning.
It is believed that a child’s cry can bring disease as well as bad luck to the whole family. So, at least for the first day of CNY, the family is advised to do everything they can to prevent a child from crying.
Even if you don’t believe in this superstition, it is helpful to not have a kid shrieking while everyone is trying to have a good time, so it’s a win-win regardless!
11. Going home
According to Chinese traditions, it is customary for a daughter to leave her childhood home and move in with her husband and his family after marriage. While this is less practised nowadays, for women who live with their husband’s parents, they’re not allowed to visit their own parents on the first day of CNY.
This is because returning home is believed to bring bad luck and deter wealth for the woman’s family.
12. Waking somebody up and taking a nap
It is the first day of CNY and you may be tempted to wake your sibling or parents up, but superstition says that we shouldn’t because this can cause the person being woken up to feel restless in the new year- always feeling exhausted, nervous and having the urge to work.
It is also believed that you shouldn’t take a nap on the first day of CNY because this can make you lazy in the new year.
Whether you believe in these taboos or not, it is worth noting that the message behind them seem to be that we should start off the new year with a positive mindset so that it sets the tone for a smooth year ahead.
It is also important to align our words and actions to this positive mindset because ultimately, they are the things that will have real-life consequences.
Good luck with CNY preparations, everyone!