13 Chinese New Year Taboos You Need To Know About

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Chinese New Year is here, along with a lot of superstitions that Chinese people believe in and abide by just because better be safe than sorry right? No one wants a year of bad luck ahead when it could be avoided. So in case, you don’t know, here are some Chinese New Year taboos that you should take note of during the festive season for a good year ahead, and also steer clear of offending people when you visit their house.

1. Don’t sweep the floor

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The Chinese people believe that sweeping the floor during Chinese New Year means you are sweeping your wealth away. So in case you want to get rid of your luck before the year even officially starts, don’t clean the house at all costs. This is such a good excuse to avoid doing housework. 

2. Don’t use sharp objects

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The use of sharp objects like knives, scissors and needles should be avoided during the Chinese New Year as they can lead to accidents and this is deemed as inauspicious and unlucky. They are also an omen for possible quarrels with others because a sharp object insinuates that you want to cut off your relationship, so don’t use them if you want to go through the year peacefully!

3. Don’t break any glass/ceramics

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Never break any glass, ceramic objects or mirrors during Chinese New Year, because breaking may result in money loss and family disagreements in future. In the scenario that a glass shatters accidentally, wrap the pieces in a red cloth, and while picking them up say out loud “Sui Sui Ping An”, which means to be safe and sound every year. The pronunciation for the chinese character shatter (碎 Sui) and year (岁 Sui) sounds the same, so the Chinese people believe that this will overwrite and expel all the bad luck. 

4. Don’t owe over the new year

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Do not lend or borrow during the lunar new year, especially money. The belief is that lending money equates to economical loss, so you should avoid offending friends or neighbours by borrowing things from them. You should also settle your debts before the year starts, as it is an unlucky omen to owe people money over the new year.  

5. Don’t give a watch or clock as a gift

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In chinese, the phrase “giving clock” directly translates to “送钟 (song zhong)”, which sounds exactly like the Chinese words for “attending a funeral ritual (送终 song zhong)”, and thus gifting a clock as a present would seem like you are cursing the recipient. On top of that, clocks and watches symbolise the running out of time, hence if you give them as presents it would seem like you are cursing the recipients to go early. Clocks and watches as gifts are the biggest no-no in Chinese culture!

6. Don’t wear black

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Colours like black and white are usually associated with funerals and hence if you were to wear them during Chinese New Year it would be considered bad luck and should be avoided. Instead, bright colours like red symbolise the colour of luck and fortune and will be the preferred choice of colour to wear during Chinese New Year. 

7. Don’t wash your hair/Don’t cut your hair

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Washing or cutting your hair during Chinese New Year is a big no as the superstition believes that you will wash or cut away your luck. So make sure you wash up before the clock strikes 12 or you will have to bear greasy hair for the next 3 days at least!

8. Don’t wash laundry

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Likewise, washing laundry has the same connotations as washing your hair, so avoid doing the laundry to prevent all the luck from leaving you!

9. Don’t give an odd number amount in the angpao

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According to Chinese numerology, even numbers are considered to be auspicious, especially the number ‘8’  (八, Ba) because it sounds like (, Fa) which means to prosper. Avoid odd numbers like 3,5,7 in your angpaos, and also ‘4’ (四 si) because it sounds similar to (死 sǐ) which means death.

The taboos mentioned above may seem familiar if you celebrate Chinese New Year as they are commonly reiterated superstitions, but you might not know about those below.  Here are some of the less talked about taboos:

10. Don’t give blessings to someone in bed

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While you are supposed to give New Year blessings during this festive season, wait for the recipient to get up from bed first before wishing them. Otherwise, they will be bed-ridden for the rest of the year! It is also believed that you should not rush someone into waking up because you don’t want them to be bossed around for the whole year. 

11. Don’t eat porridge

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Avoid eating porridge during Chinese New Year as porridge is often considered as “poor people food”, and you don’t want to start the year “poor” as it is a bad omen. Buddhists also believe that you shouldn’t eat meat during this festive season as it encourages the killing of animals, which should be avoided as this is a happy occasion, and everyone should be out celebrating and giving their well-wishes.

12. Don’t have an empty rice barrel

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The rice barrel is an indication of one’s living standards. If it is empty, this would mean that there may be days of starvation waiting for them in the future. Hence, Chinese families believe that filling the rice jar to the brim during Chinese New Year’s eve is a way to welcome a healthy financial situation. 

13. Do not visit the wife’s family

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When a bride marries, she moves into the groom’s home. In Chinese traditions, they believe that if the bride returns back to her family on New Year’s Day, it would signify that there are marital problems, and this may bring bad luck to the family. The couple can visit the wife’s family on the second day of Chinese New Year instead.

Whether you are superstitious or not, you’d rather be extra careful or potentially face a bad year ahead! Which taboos are you going to follow? Let us know in the comments below! And now that you are equipped with the right information on things to be careful of during the new year, you are ready to learn some Chinese New Year greetings to impress your older relatives!

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