Remember these Chinese New Year traditions, and good fortune is guaranteed to come your way (maybe)
Chinese New Year is the time where family and friends gather to celebrate a year of happiness, prosperity, health and good fortune. There are loads of things to do at Chinese New Year, including feeding your family with the best Chinese New Year menus and catching the most remarkable fireworks displays of the year. Living in Hong Kong, there are certain rules during the festive season that you should bare in mind, or else it is said to invite bad luck for the future year. So here are ten Chinese New Year traditions, or dos and don’ts, that you should pay attention to!
Chinese New Year traditions
1. DO greet everyone you meet
Say Gong Hee Fat Choy (meaning I wish you wealth and success in Cantonese) or Sun Tai Kin Hong (I wish you a healthy body) to those around you. It’s just part of the Chinese mannerism to greet everyone that you encounter and they’ll return the favour.
2. DO wear red on both the outside and inside
Red is a lucky colour in Chinese culture. It symbolises good luck and success. Especially when people are participating in games such as mahjong, wearing red underwear is always a plus! A black and white wardrobe reminds people of death and funerals, so don’t dress in black when you’re paying a visit to a friend or a family member’s house. When it comes to Chinese New Year traditions, this is a huge one.
3. DO give away loads of mandarin oranges
There are an array of Chinese New Year foods and snacks that you should get during the holiday. In Cantonese, mandarin orange (gan ju) is homophonous with the word “gold” and “luck”, so it’s part of the tradition that people bring along mandarin oranges while visiting others’ family and hand them out as a sign of sharing good fortune.
4. DON’t speak about death
Growing up, our grandparents always shushed us when we accidentally spilled the word “dead” or “ghost”, as it invites bad luck and misfortune to the individual or even the family. So if you don’t want any unfortunate events to happen to you or your significant other, remember these Chinese New Year traditions.
5. DON’T wash your hair
On the first day of Chinese New Year, you must not wash your hair. In Cantonese, hair is pronounced as Fat (meaning wealth). If you wash your hair, it means that you’re washing your own fortune away for the coming 364 days. To make things more interesting, people should avoid washing clothes on the first and second day, because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of the Water God.
6. DON’T cut your hair
Same as the above, you do not wish to cut off your fortune the first day of the new year!
But after that, check out our fave hair salons in Hong Kong to welcome in the new year.
7. DON’T cry
As you might’ve noticed, it’s believed that what you do during the first few days of Chinese New Year could completely script your luck in the coming year. So don’t cry, it’s going to mess up your luck with all those tears.
8. DON’T buy shoes
Shoes (hai) has the same sounds as “sigh” in Cantonese. That’s why you’re not suggested to buy new shows during Chinese New Year, as it means that you’re going to jinx yourself with loads of disappointments and miserable events that will make you sigh in the coming year.
9. DON’T buy books
Talk about avoiding terrible homophones again and again! Books (syu) is pronounced the same as “losing” in the Cantonese language. This is definitely one of the most important Chinese New Year’s traditions to remember, as you don’t want to mention books while your parents and grandparents are playing mahjong – you might just get scolded at no matter how old you are.
10. DON’T do any house cleaning during the holiday
Before the holiday arrives, the entire family should do their spring cleaning and make sure they get rid of last year’s bad fortune and the memories of any mishappenings. On the first day of Chinese New Year however, no one is allowed to clean their house anymore as that is a sign of sweeping away the household’s fortune for the new year.