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Chinese New Year superstitions
Ken Hom

Chinese New Year is steeped in superstition –
here are just some of the ones you could come across:

  • The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
  • Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year.
  • On the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, has to be open to allow the old year to go out.
  • All debts had to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light to others.
  • If you cry on New Year's Day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.
  • On New Year's Day, we are not suppose to wash our hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year.
  • A home is thought to be lucky if a plant blooms on New Year's Day, as this foretells the start of a prosperous year.
  • It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.
  • Do not use knives or scissors on New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.

Whilst many Chinese people today may not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. Most families say that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.