More than just a time to catch up with friends and family, Chinese New Year carries great cultural significance to Chinese families as it is believed that the auspicious day not only marks the start of a new year, but it also sets the stage for the rest of the year.
Because of that, Chinese New Year has several regional customs and traditions, and with it, a number of superstitions and taboos.
The Chinese believe that whatever happens on the first day of the year will happen for the rest of the year. Using foul language or proverbs that are considered bad luck are a taboo on the first day. Additionally, ghost stories that mention death and the afterlife are forbidden.
In the week leading up to the Chinese New Year, members of the household would usually clean the house before the New Year as it is said to be symbolic of cleaning away the old and preparing to welcome the new year. On Chinese New Year eve, cleaning equipment like brooms, brushes, dusters, and dustpans are kept away, while cleaning the house during the New Year’s day is forbidden as it is seen as “sweeping away good luck”.
Bursting firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is one way of bidding good-bye to the year gone by, and welcoming the new one. This superstition is based on a timeless tale which paints the picture of a half-dragon, half-lion monster called Nian. Every year, Nian would descend from the mountains and scare humans. One day, the people discovered that the beast abhorred noise and uproar. So, they chose to beat it with the din created by fireworks.
Lastly, never start the New Year with broken crockery and never don black clothing. They’re both considered bad luck. As red and gold are considered the colours of good fortune and prosperity, it is used a great deal in decorations and of course clothing.
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