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Chinese New Year Superstitions and Taboos: You Need to Know

Chinese New Year Superstitions and Taboos

Chinese New Year is a year-long festival celebrated by the Chinese. It’s a family reunion where people get together to pay respects to the elderly and enjoy good food. The festival marks the beginning of the new lunar year or spring festival and new beginnings. As it’s a day for superstition, many people follow superstitions and taboos to ensure good luck, fortune, and prosperity. If you’re new to Chinese culture or planning to celebrate Chinese New Year with your loved ones, we’ve covered you. Here are the Chinese new year taboos and superstitions that every Chinese must follow on this festive day. Read on, as we’ve also covered some tips that’ll help you ensure good luck and fortune during this joyous day.

1. Avoid taking medicine.

Avoid taking medicine

It is considered taboo to brew or take any type of medicine on the first day of the lunar year. People are advised to avoid taking any type of medication and instead rest, as this is seen as more beneficial in terms of health and well-being. To ensure good health throughout the year, it is recommended that people take care of their bodies with healthy diet and exercise habits and allow enough time for rest and relaxation. Doing so can help reduce the risk of falling ill during the first day of the lunar year and throughout the rest of the year.

2. Don’t sweep or take out the garbage.

Don't sweep

Staying away from sweeping and washing the floor on New Year’s Day is considered taboo among Chinese people. It is believed that sweeping or washing the floor on this day will bring bad luck, as it reminds people of the end year. Moreover, sweeping or washing the floor on new year’s day may lead to accidents in the year ahead.

Another superstition about sweeping and washing the floor on new year’s day is that doing so can cause bad luck for the year ahead. So people must refrain from sweeping and washing their floor on new year’s day as these rituals are believed to bring good luck and fortune.

3. No unlucky words.

The Lunar New Year is a time for joy and celebration; nobody wants to hear negative words during this special period. There are words such as “death,” “sickness,” and “four” that people should not say during Chinese New Year celebrations. This is so as to avoid bad luck coming into the new year. 

4. Don’t eat porridge and meat for breakfast.

porridge

It is not advisable to consume porridge, as it is associated with having a meager lifestyle, and people may not want to commence the new year feeling impoverished, which is seen as an ominous sign.

In addition, considering the Buddhist deities (who believed in abstaining from taking life), no meat should be consumed at this breakfast as all divine beings are thought to be gathering and exchanging New Year greetings.

5. Don’t wash clothes.

Don't wash clothes

People do not wash clothes on the first and second day of the new year because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of the water god. To wash clothes is regarded as disrespect to the god of water.
The people of old thought that water represented riches. It was thought that discarding the water used to wash laundry would lead to discarding wealth.

6. Don’t use scissors or knives.

The edges of the scissors are likened to sharp mouths when people argue. It is believed that trimming with them on the initial day of the Chinese New Year will bring about disagreements in the upcoming year.

The utilization of blades ought to be evaded to dodge any calamity, regardless of whether it is hurtful to somebody or a thing, which is thought to bring about unlucky results and the consumption of riches in the year ahead.

7. Avoid lending and borrowing money.

One of the most common superstitions is to avoid lending or borrowing money on New Year’s Day. This superstition is rooted in the idea that any money lent or borrowed will bring bad luck throughout the rest of the year. While it may seem silly to some, it’s still a tradition practiced by many people around the world! 

lending and borrowing money

8. Don’t wear damaged clothes.

It is important not to wear clothes that are damaged. If a person wears clothes that are torn, stained, or ripped, then it does not make a good impression. Additionally, in some cultures, this can be seen as unlucky. This is especially true during the first lunar month – if kids wear damaged clothes, then it could bring bad luck. It is important to take care of our clothing and keep them in good condition so they do not become damaged and dirty. Taking time to clean and mend clothes can ensure that they last longer and look better when worn. Taking care of our clothing is an essential part of looking good, feeling confident, and staying lucky!

9.No odd amounts of lucky money.

Chinese people have a traditional belief that good things always come in doubles, hence why they often prefer even numbers. The number 4 is to be avoided, as it has a similar pronunciation to the word for death in Chinese culture. Thus, for example, the number 40 should also be avoided, as it contains a four within its digits. This superstition is not just limited to numbers; many Chinese people also believe that odd numbers bring bad luck and so will try to avoid them if possible. For instance, when sitting at events or banquets, Chinese people often opt for an even-numbered table setting or seating arrangement. It is believed that by doing this, they can bring good fortune and ward off any potential misfortune.

10. Don’t give certain gifts.

In Chinese culture, certain gifts are traditionally considered bad omens and should be avoided. These include clocks, scissors, and pears. The gift of a clock is thought to signify that time is running out, while the gift of scissors implies cutting ties with someone or something. A pear can represent separation or mean that someone will soon part ways with their beloved. Though these gifts may not seem like they would be seen as negative by western cultures, it’s important to respect the traditional meanings behind them in Chinese culture. If you are giving a gift to someone of Chinese descent, it’s best to avoid any of these symbols and opt for something more neutral and universal instead.

11. Avoid breaking a bowl, plate, glass, etc.

Shattering is seen as a sign of imperfection and misfortune. To break a bowl or mirror during the Lunar New Year is thought to bring bad luck, financial detriment, or even the dissolution of a family.

If something is broken accidentally, people usually use red paper to wrap up the fragments and then say “sui sui ping an” which means ‘all year round safe and sound.’ 

12. A married daughter is not allowed to visit her parents’ house on Chinese New Year’s Day.

In some Chinese cultures, it is believed that having a married daughter visiting her parent’s house on the day of the Chinese New Year will bring bad luck to the parents, causing their family to suffer from economic hardship. Therefore, it is traditional and customary for a married daughter not to visit her parents on this special day. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation to respect and protect the family’s well-being. Although this custom may seem outdated to some people, most Chinese families still observe it with great respect and solemnity. They understand that it is essential for them to honor their traditions for their family to prosper and remain blessed throughout the year.

13. Keep children from crying.

The cry of a child is thought to bring bad luck to the family, so parents should prevent it. To some, this may sound irrational, but for many cultures, this belief has been passed down for generations. Parents do whatever they can to keep the child from crying, often using distracting toys or treats or singing lullabies. If the child cannot be consoled, measures such as taking them out for a walk may be used. While some may see this as an act of superstition, others believe it to be a form of protection. And will do whatever they can to ensure their children are happy and free from any kind of misfortune.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our superstitions and taboos related to the Chinese New year. So, if you’re new in the land of red luck, don’t be surprised. And If people tell you to avoid sweeping or taking out the trash—smile and nod.

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