Chinese New Year Taboos

Spring Festival is a time of celebration. There’re a lot of festivities for this special occasion from ancient times, as well as rules and restrictions. Many people today may not believe the taboos attached to the festival but these customs are still kept with people’s hopes for a happy and lucky new year.

Before the New Year:

1. All debts have to be paid back before the New Year comes.

2. Everyone in the family helps to clean the house from top to toe before the New Year fun begins to sweep away the bad luck.

3. All the lucky decorations should be hung over doors and around rooms on New Year’s Eve, including Spring Festival couplets, paper-cuts and pictures of Door Gods.

4. Black and white colors are carefully kept away as these colors signify death, misfortune and ill-luck.

On New Year's Day

5. No Sweeping – Housekeepers are careful not to clean or throw out rubbish, in case all the wealth that the gods have brought for the New Year will be swept away.

6. No Clothes Washing – The first day of Lunar New Year is the birthday of water god, so don’t wash clothes in the first two days or it may wash away the luck and good fortune.

7. No Stuff Breaking – It is considered that breaking things especially plates or dishes is an omen of breaking your connection to prosperity and good luck.

  • But in modern society, it doesn’t matter if children break dishes incautiously as long as their parents say “岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān, May you have peace year after year)”immediately. 岁 (suì) is a homophone of 碎 in Chinese, which means “broken” or “shattered”.

8. No Unlucky Words – Unlucky words such as death, poverty, running out and any other words with negative meanings are not allowed to say.

9. No Porridge and Meat – It is believed that only poor people eat porridge in the morning, which will prevent you from getting prosperous in the coming new year. Besides, it said that the morning is the New Year Festival for all gods who arrives to greet new year, so try not to eat meat in the morning to show respect to them.

10. No Medicine – You’d better not to take any medicine unless you’re chronically ill.

During the Spring Festival:

11. No Crying and Fighting – Everything should be solved peacefully during the New Year time. Try not to cry or argue with others to ensure a smooth new year.

12. No Killing – Any killings during the festival should be avoided as blood will bring disasters to the family.

13. No Lending or Borrowing – During the festival nothing should be lent out or borrowed from others because anyone who does so will be lending or borrowing throughout the year.

14. No Scissors or Knives – Try to avoid the use of knives and scissors during this time as it may lead to inauspicious things. Hair cutting is a taboo as well until the festival is over.

15. No Hospital Visits – Just like medicine-taking, don’t visit hospital unless there’s a serious emergency, for that it will bring illness for the coming year.

Other Facts:

1. It’s impolite when guests pay a New Year visit to you but you’re sleeping in you room.

2. Married daughter should not visit her parents on the first day of Lunar New Year.

3. Flowers are a symbol of plenty at New Year.

4. Red is the perfect color for the New Year.

5. Clocks are the worst presents for Chinese people as gifting clocks (送钟—sòng zhōng)is a homophone of 送终 in Chinese, which means paying one’s last respects…