Chinese culture date back to almost four thousand to five thousand years, and the Chinese way of life is interwoven with the rich tapestries of their various socio cultural, traditional and religious belief.
China, despite an official ban on religion and being termed as the “wild East”, has remained surprisingly superstitious in many ways.
Chinese New Year, which is a fifteen day long extravaganza and can almost make one write a do’s and don’ts s during The New Year, is then no wonder full of various superstitions in many form. Some at this modern day too would resonate and some have probably become outdated.
Let us have a look at the Chinese New Year superstitions –
- No to Cleaning
All the cleaning of the entire house should be done and dusted by New Year’s Eve as all duster brooms etc. are kept away as the Chinese believe that cleaning may sweep away all your good luck. In sweeping too, there is a superstition that you may unknowingly sweep one of your family members away. Again, if you sweep the dust and the dirt outside by the main entrance, then you may tend to drive away all the family fortune . So dust and dirt must be swept inside and then carried outside preferably by the back door.
- Pay off your debts
One must dip deep into their pockets and be prepared to pay off all their debts before the New Year. This stems from the belief, that if you are beginning the year in red, you will end in that way too. Nothing is to be lent on this day, again simply because that would indicate that you will be lending throughout the year. In yesteryears, even tinder or flint will not be lent to make fire on this day.
- Bathing in Pomelo Leaves
The night just before the New Year it is advised to bathe oneself in Pomelo leaves, as that will keep you healthy throughout the next year. One to trample upon the malicious gossip monger may also wear a pair of shoes bought before the New Year.
- Negative terms not to be used
Everyone is asked not to use bad language, or use unlucky words. For example, the term four ”SSU” which sounds like the word for death, is strictly prohibited from uttering. Mentions to the past year is also advised to be avoided as all sorrow or otherwise are gone and one must turn towards a new beginning.
- Wearing Red
Despite being an extremely colorful and spectacular occasion the preferred color for many is red, as red is believed to bring the wearer a bright and fair prospect in the upcoming New Year. It is firmly believed that the mood and tone set on the New Year will continue for the rest of the year. Children and other family members are given Hang Bao or Lai see; which are red envelopes containing money to bring them good fortune.
- Driving out the old and the Evil
Shooting firecrackers is a way of driving away the evil and also the old year, In some parts of China, people burn Cypress branches, as it is believed that it helps in driving away the evil spirits. On the stroke of midnight on the New Year’s Eve, all doors and windows of the house are flung open to allow the old year to go out.
- No to ghostly horror stories
If in a family reunion and it is your turn to recount the story, no way can you tell a story of ghosts, death or dying. These are considered to be extremely inauspicious, and more so during the Chinese new Year.
- Personal Cleanliness
On New Year’s Day, one is not supposed to wash one’s hair, in case the luck too washes away!
- No crying on New Year Day
It is firmly believed that if you cry on the New Year day, then the rest of the year too will be spent crying. Therefore an atmosphere of happiness and bonhomie is maintained on this day. Even the children, naughty ones included are not scolded, for the fear that may burst into cries!
- No sharp stuff
Sharp objects are considered to be the harbinger of ill luck and bad news. It is believed that the sharp objects swiftly cut away your good luck. Therefore sharp objects are advised to be packed and kept away. Even visiting the hair cutting salon is also not advisable.
- No to new shoes
In Cantonese language shoes are a homonym for rough. Therefore it is advisable not to buy shoes amidst these 15 days of New Year celebration to have a rough and choppy whole year.
- Stock books
Make sure that you have enough books to read during the holiday period if you are a bookworm. Why? Because in Cantonese, the homonym for book is Loss! Thus the book shops in Hong Kong will be safely closed during this period to avoid any kind of loss!
- Sweeten the Year
Though the Chinese people are known to have a sweet tooth, The Chinese New Year gives them further motivation as eating candies is believed to give you a chance to have a sweeter ensuing year.
Eating dumplings are mandatory during the New Year Reunion dinner. Because the dumplings resemble the Chinese coin called yuanbao, eating dumpling is believed to usher in prosperity. Taking it a step further, in some places people put a clean coin inside the dumpling as whoever consumes it luck will come to them.
- Bring on the Light
It is firmly believed that switching on the lights during the night is a good luck charm as it will scare away the ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may have plagued you and may have compromised the fortune and luck in the upcoming New Year!
- Avoid clothes in white and black
It is thoroughly advised not to buy clothes in either black or white. Black is a symbol of bad luck and white is a traditional mourning color.
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