As we remove the lunar calendar of the previous year, hanging up a new one, we find ourselves having to carry out a series of activities. Cleaning up our houses, buying new décor, stocking up mandarin oranges at home, preparing for one of the most celebrated holidays on our sunny island – Chinese New Year (CNY). We will also unconsciously follow a set of rules, a set of Do’s and Don’ts. You may think that you are not committing any “crime”, but are you really? Here are 10 things not to do during CNY.
Disclaimer: These beliefs are from different sources which mean that there may be other versions of it somewhere out there so just take my advice with a pinch of salt!
- Don’t wear black or white
Black and white are traditionally colours of mourning. Black usually means depression, sadness and even death. White is usually associated with death and mourning. People usually wear clothes of these colours to funerals which thus led to the belief of it bringing bad luck when worn on CNY. Instead of putting yourself at risk, why not wear clothing of other livelier colours such as red, yellow or orange. You could also get a graphic tee instead of a plain white tee!
- Don’t sweep the floor on the first few days of CNY
It is believed that one is sweeping away their riches/wealth when they sweep the floor on the first few days of CNY and that it will bring bad luck to the owner(s) of the establishment or house. In some myths, it is believed that rubbish can only be cleared after the 5th day of CNY. Why not wait till you’re able to clear your rubbish before sweeping your floors, or sweep it before the first day of CNY? Try not to drop and crumbs or drinks on the floor so that you would avoid the need to sweep or mop the floor.
- Don’t quarrel
One of the best times to hold gatherings is during CNY. However, when siblings come together or friends hold gatherings, disagreements might occur which may lead to a full blown argument. It is believed that quarrels would not only worsen your relationship with the other party, but bad luck would also follow and you may be at war with the other party for the rest of the year! For all you may know, if you can put up with the insults thrown at you, you’d be a much more patient person which would take you a long way in life!
- Don’t borrow/ lend money
Same concept applies: If you borrow money from others, you’ll find yourself consistently borrowing money from others. Likewise, if you lend money to others, you would be flooded with requests to loan others money. My suggestion? Pay up all outstanding debts and don’t borrow or lend money from and to anyone during this festive period. This can be easily achieved if you bring out enough cash so that you wouldn’t find yourself in the predicament of needing to borrow money.
- Don’t cuss/ swear
Cussing and swearing would weakens one positive energy (yang qi) and builds up the negativity within the individual, making one more vulnerable to spirits, bad luck and all things bad. That’s why you shouldn’t swear at all cost! Besides, why begin a new year with a bad start? Just try to hold your tongue for 15 days! Who knows, you might become a more reserved and sophisticated person and people might also have a different perspective of you!
- Don’t wash your clothes on the First two days of CNY
These two days are the birthdays of the water gods and it wouldn’t be nice to bother someone on their birthday, right? Thus, you should do your laundry before these two days to ensure that you have enough clothes to last you and your family through the New Year. Besides, who would want to do household chores whilst everyone is celebrating?
- Don’t wash your hair on the First day of CNY
It is believed that your hair is linked to your wealth so by washing it, you’re effectively “washing away” your wealth. This being said, you should avoid from any activities that would require a lot of physical motion or events such as barbeques! Dry shampoo is always an alternative too!
- Don’t give ‘Ang Pow’ money in odd numbers
Giving money in odd numbers is said to bring about bad luck to both the recipient and the giver. Different numbers carry different meanings like the number 5 is associated with “no” or “not” as in “not prosperous” or “no money”. The number 7, although a lucky number in the Western context, is an unlucky number to the Chinese as it is associated with anger and abandonment. Thus, the safest thing to do is to hand Ang Pows with money in even numbers like $8!
- Don’t cry (with the exception of children and babies)
Crying usually symbolizes sadness or mourning over something. It is believed that you will cry throughout the year which means things will not be in your favour. Furthermore, it’s the season to be happy and to celebrate togetherness. Hold back those tears and do something to keep your spirits up! If you’re a foodie like me, indulge in the array of CNY goodies and delicacies! You could also use this opportunity to have a movie marathon because Mediacorp would usually air movies on Channel 8 or Channel 5 for our viewing pleasure!
- Don’t forget the oranges
It’s rude to turn up at someone’s house empty handed so on CNY, people exchange oranges with the owner(s) of the house they are visiting to show respect to the owner(s). Oranges also represent wealth and prosperity so by doing so, you are ensuring that both parties will be prosperous in the coming year! If you have a memory of a goldfish, leave the oranges in little CNY paper bags positioned at a prominent area like where you leave your keys or somewhere near your door so you can grab it before you go!
Beliefs and traditions are carried out by many generations for a reason. Though we don’t have a man-eating monster that is scared of red anymore, we hang up red ornaments on this special occasion to represent happiness, good luck and prosperity. These myths and beliefs must have some truth behind it and it is therefore in my conviction that we should heed the advice of our elders to ensure that things would run smoothly in the New Year. As they say, 不听老人言，吃亏在眼前 (bu ting lao ren yan, chi kui zai yan qian). Here’s wishing all a Happy and Joyous Lunar New Year! May all good things come your way!