With Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year) just around the corner, we thought it was high time we shared some of the more unusual customs and traditions that will make their way into many Asian households across the world as they celebrating the Lunar New Year, including the superstitions and taboos you shouldn’t ignore. Here are 10 bizarre Asian New Year superstitions and taboos that still exist:
1. Don’t keep a rice jar empty
The staple food for Asian nations is rice as it symbolises fertility and a good harvest. An empty rice jar is something that indicates barren and starving days. Hence, rice jars are always filled to the brim before the New Year commences. Topping it up before New Year’s Eve is also a way to invoke the god of wealth and prosperity.
2. Never give a clock as a gift
The ticking hands of a clock symbolise that time is running out, so avoid giving watches, clocks or other timepieces as may symbolise the end of a relationship.
3. Stay away from needles and scissors
Avoid using a needle or scissors during the New Year period. These pointy objects are believed to deplete wealth if used in the first two weeks of the New Year.
4. Cats bring good luck
In the Japanese culture, welcoming a cat at the office or home is considered to bring fortune and success. That explains why you see lucky cat figurines and posters in restaurants and shops.
5. Don’t shake your legs
In Korea, it’s a bad omen to shake your legs as it symbolises shaking off all the good luck and wealth you’ve had in your life, or kicking away the good fortune to come – don’t ever jiggle your legs, especially during the Lunar New Year.
6. Don’t eat porridge for breakfast
Porridge was usually eaten when times were lean and there was a lack of grains or groceries at homes. Eating rice porridge on Chinese New year is believed to reflect a poor condition or poverty, so avoid it during this festive season.
7. Replace dead plants with fresh plants and seeds
Sow the seeds of hope into the pot of life and do away with those dead plants that are crowding your windowsills and garden. This replanting is symbolic of clearing the clutter and letting go of the past and starting anew with fresh hope of a new beginning.
8. Never buy shoes on New Year’s Eve or Day
In Cantonese, the word for shoes is a homonym for “”””rough””””, so avoid buying shoes on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day as you could be slipping into to a rough year ahead.
9. Score the last piece of food
In Thai culture, it is believed that if you get the last piece of food on the plate when sharing the reunion dinner, will get you handsome boyfriend or good looking girlfriend. So, be bold and grab the last bite before it’s gone!
10. Wear, dream, and give red
Chinese New Year is a time when everything around you is dressed up in red. The warm colour is known to be a harbinger of luck and prosperity. So deck your house in red, wear red clothes and, of course, don’t forget to exchange red envelopes.