Chinese New Year is just around the corner and we can’t wait to indulge on all the CNY delicacies we lay our hands on! If you come from a somewhat traditional Chinese family, you’d already be used to the many traditions and customs practised during this auspicious and prosperous season. Even though some of them are borderline absurd, we all know that our grandparents and parents only mean well, no matter how superstitious they may be. On the contrary, if you’re Malaysian, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about the culture of our Chinese brothers and sisters, so here are eight basic CNY traditions that we should all know!
1. Spring cleaning around your home before CNY
Before the New Year begins, you should make sure to sweep every corner of your home to get rid of bad spirits and bad luck associated with the older year. This is done to welcome a new beginning and good luck for the rest of the New Year. The Chinese believe that having a clean and sparkly home during the New Year would mean having good fortune throughout the year.
2. Chinese New Year eve reunion dinner
The New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is the most important dinner for the Chinese. Every family member from the entire extended family would make it a point to gather together for a scrumptious meal to welcome the New Year. Usually, the food that is served during this reunion dinner include Chinese dishes that symbolize good fortune, prosperity and health for the brand new year. The majority of Chinese would also have their New Year’s Eve reunion dinner at home instead of at restaurants.
3. Wearing red articles of clothing
There’s no guessing why the Chinese are always dressed up in red for Chinese New Year. It symbolizes luck, good fortune, and also ‘invites’ abundant wealth for the wearer. It is also believed that what you wear on the first day of New Year would set the tone for your life for the rest of the year. Remember, you should also avoid wearing black or white, as those two colours are often associated with mourning and death.
4. Visiting family and friends
What goes around comes around and you should spend the New Year’s visiting family and friends in their homes. Not only does this bring you good luck and fortune, you’ll also be blessing the families of those you have visited. After all, Chinese New Year is all about gathering with your loved ones and having a good time together.
5. No sweeping floors on the first day of New Year
The Chinese believe that disposing of garbage and sweeping floors on New Year’s day would mean that you are casting your riches for the New Year out the door. This would mean that you would be sweeping away the good luck in store for you for the brand new year, which brings us back to our first point – to spring clean around your home before CNY.
6. Don’t wash your hair on the first three days of New Year
Washing your hair on the first three days of New Year would, again, mean that you are casting away the good luck and fortune that’s in store for you. This is also because the Chinese word for hair is a homonym for the Chinese word for wealth. Hence, they believe that it isn’t a good thing to ‘wash’ away your wealth at the beginning of New Year.
7. Avoid breaking or cracking any dinnerware
We’ve shared with you the importance of Chinese New Year reunion dinners and family meals. If you do break or crack any plates or bowls, this would incur more misfortune for the New Year. In the event of breaking or cracking anything, quickly say “Peace for all time”, and the bad luck will be warded away.
8. Avoid greeting people who are in mourning
Although this seems kind of mean, many Chinese believe that they should not associate themselves with people who have just encountered death in their families during the New Year season. Greeting people who are in mourning would signify that you are inviting bad spirits and misfortune into your life, which is not a good start to the New Year. However, many people do disregard this custom out of respect to those who are deceased.