Chinese New Year 2020 traditions and superstitions
It’s time to say goodbye to the Year of Pig and hello to the Year of the Rat. With Chinese New Year 2020 is just around the corner it’s the biggest holiday of the year for many Chinese and for some the only time they get enough leave from their jobs to travel home and see their loved ones. Chinese people believe that, as the Spring Festival is the start of a new year along with the reunions come a lot of traditions and superstitions aimed at making sure the coming year is lucky and prosperous. Some of those Chinese New Year taboos will only sustain for first few days of the festival, while others may be kept till the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month, or even for a whole month. Hereunder are few things you should do and never do during the Chinese New Year.
1. Nothing But Red
Wearing new clothes means a brand new start. Therefore, everyone, including children and babies, should be dressed in new clothes to celebrate the New Year, and in bright colours. Tell your son to save his favourite Batman t-shirt for another occasion, and don a red one instead. Red is a favourite colour of choice, because it symbolizes luck and prosperity. Above all, dressing in black and white is only applicable to woefully dour occasions like funerals and mourning ceremonies. Therefore, it is inappropriate to wear black or white clothes during the festival. Lastly, do not wear clothes that are damaged. So ragged or dirty dressing symbolizes poverty and misfortune, and should be avoided .If kids especially wear such clothes in the first lunar month, it is said to bring bad luck. But don’t worry, there are plenty of colours for you to choose from and each colour carries auspicious meanings too. For examples, green represents good health and yellow means good luck
2. Doing house chores
There are more specific Chinese New Year superstitions related to house chores as well. Sweeping dirt and dust out of the house and dumping trash are believed to be sweeping away and dumping good fortune. Washing clothes on the first two days of Lunar New Year is also considered an offense to the Water God as it’s the god’s birthday.
Make sure your house is tidy before Lunar New Year, so you can rest and celebrate to the fullest. If you need to sweep dirt and dust, don’t sweep them out through the front door. Instead, sweep them inward and take them out through the back door. If it is really necessary, the house owner should start the sweeping from outside to inside of the house, which intimates collecting money. Besides, pouring water outside should also be avoided, as flowing water indicates movement of money; in this case, money leaving the home.
It seems strange that such a good thing to do is one of things not to do on Chinese New Year, but there are explanations for this. Since the old days, Chinese people have always been working hard every day during the year. When Chinese New Year’s Day comes, they take a day or days off from work and also don’t do housework. It’s considered unlucky to do work and chores on the first day of the year as it symbolizes going through hardships through the year.
3. Have Reunion Dinner
Reunion dinner symbolises togetherness and a great start to the New Year with the family. This is also the time where every family member, near or far, will return home to feast together and celebrate the joyous occasion.
Of course when it comes to reunion dinner, there will be a lot of foods! Certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning. Lucky food is served during the festival season, especially on Chinese New Year dinner on New Year’s Eve, which is believed to bring good luck for the coming year.
The auspicious symbolism of these traditional Chinese New Year foods is based on their pronunciations or appearance. Not only do the dishes themselves matter, but also the preparation, and ways of serving and eating mean a lot. The most common Chinese New Year foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao.
Eating fish is a must for Lunar New Year, because the Chinese word for “fish” (魚, yú) is similar to the word for “plenty” (餘, yú). However, you don’t want to “eat up” all your good fortune. Hence you should leave some fish on the plate to symbolize abundance for the future.
Flipping the fish is also considered bad luck. After the top half is eaten, the fish’s spine should be removed instead of flipping the fish, to prevent turning your gain into a loss. Remind children to be extra careful not to break anything since breaking dishes invite more misfortune in the New Year. Even when you’re eating fish, be careful not to break any of the bones!
An additional information upon the family reunion, multiple generations live together. The bride moves into the groom’s home after marriage. And, of course, she will celebrate Chinese New Year with her in-laws. Returning to her parents on New Year’s Day means that there are marriage problems and may also bring bad luck to the entire family. The couple should visit the wife’s family on the 2nd day. They’d bring their children, as well as a modest gift because it’s the thought that counts.
4. Chinese gift-giving taboos
Lastly, it was mentioned above that you should bring gifts when paying visits. It’s the thought that counts, but some gifts are forbidden. Clocks are the worst gifts. Gifting clocks (送钟—sòng zhōng) is a homophone of paying one’s last respects (送终). Splitting pears (分梨—fèn lí) is also a homophone of separation (分离).Some regions have their own local taboos too. For example, in Mandarin, “apple” (苹果) is pronounced píng guǒ. But in Shanghainese, it is bing gu, which sounds like “passed away from sickness.” Other than that, buying a new shoes on Chinese New Year are strictly not allowed. The reason why buying new shoes is one of the things not to do on Chinese New Year is related to the language. This superstition comes from one Chinese ethnic group in Thailand, Chaozhou or Teochew. The word “shoes” in their language is “hoi”, which sounds similar to “hai” or “sigh” in English. Sighing at the start of the year is like you’re already stressed about something and that’s not a good way to begin, right? How to solve it is by buy new shoes beforehand or have spare pairs at the ready.
It is a tradition to bring along mandarin oranges for visiting during the Chinese New Year as the fruit in mandarin is ‘橘’, which sounds like ‘吉’, meaning ‘auspicious’. At every home you visit and upon entering the house, each member of the family including children should present two mandarin oranges to the heads of the household, and offer the customary New Year greetings as well.
Here Luxury Suites Asia hopes you enjoyed this local knowledge about things you can do and not to do on Chinese New Year 2020. Even if you aren’t of Chinese descent and don’t have to observe these Chinese traditions, it’s good to know what colour to wear or how to behave. This is how you can blend in with Chinese friends or neighbour when joining Chinese New Year festivities! Don’t forget to make your booking with us and we will make you feel like home.