Chinese New Year Taboos

Chinese New Year Taboos

During the Spring Festival from the first to the fifteenth of the Lunar New Year, rich taboos have been inherited in the historic process. Being invested by cultural tradition, taboos have become as general rules for New Year customs. They play a crucial part in creating the feeling of a joyous festival, relating to every aspect of our lives.

For instance, you may have been pondering these questions for a long time: Is it okay to cut my hair during the Chinese New Year? Can I wear white or black clothing? Can I take a shower? Can I do laundry? Below, you can find the answers.

Chinese new year taboos Infographic: Chinese New Year Taboos

Language Taboos:

1. Don’t scold others, especially children, because it is considered that if you blame a child on the first day of Lunar New Year, he or she will get scolded for the whole year. At the same time, don’t say anything indecent or quarrel to others.

2. Don’t talk about diseases, disasters or any other unlucky terms, such as the number four (Si in Chinese Pinyin, which sounds similar to death), or mentioning about illness or death.

Behavior Taboos:

1. Don’t go to bed too early:
On New Year’s Eve, people stay up till mid-night or early morning the next day. It is deemed that the later people stay up, the longer their parents will live.

2. Don’t put on old clothes:
On the first day of Lunar Year, a whole family wears new clothes, socks and shoes, making a fresh start to welcome the coming year.

3. Don’t use scissors or needles on the first three days, otherwise, it is bad luck for the entire coming year.

4. Don’t break a mirror, a bowl, or porcelain:
Avoid breaking stuff or else it will incur misfortune. If someone breaks a dish carelessly, quickly say "Peace for all time", and the bad luck will turn to good luck.

5. Don’t wash your hair on the first day of the New Year.
This is because the Chinese word for “hair” is a homonym to “wealth”, and people think it is miserable to wash wealth away at the beginning.

6. Avoid cutting your hair.
It is thought that doing so may disrupt one's financial luck during the festive season. People typically choose to cut their hair on the second day of the second lunar month, known as "Longtaitou" in Chinese culture.

7. Avoid sweeping and taking out of garbage.
It is believed that sweeping and taking out of garbage may dump out good fortune by accident. Therefore, people clean the floor from outside to inside.

Food Taboos:

1. Don’t eat up all of the dishes.
People would like to leave some food of the New Year Eve’s dinner to the next day, which demonstrates a well off life. Having a great number of dishes means that a family can have an enjoyable and content festival.

2. Don’t eat meat or congee for breakfast of the first day
On the first day, Chinese people will have a vegetarian breakfast, but no congee. Eating vegetarian breakfast means they are in good health and don’t need extra meat. And avoid congee as it was only ate by the poor in old days. These taboos reveal that people fear about such threats of hunger and illness in an arduous life.

Clothes Taboos:

In traditional Chinese culture, one would dress festively for the New Year, and white is sometimes considered less auspicious, especially in funerals, where white clothes are often used to show remembrance of the deceased. So it's best not to wear white clothing during Chinese New Year.

Nevertheless, with the changing times and the influence of new cultures, some young people may choose to wear white clothing during the New Year to express their individuality and stand out. However, they often incorporate red decorations, such as red scarves or brooches, to add a touch of festivity.

Wearing black clothing during the New Year may convey a more solemn atmosphere. If one decides to wear black, it is preferable to add some red accessories to balance the tone and maintain a festive spirit.

Have a question?
Are you eager to begin your Chinese cultural journey?
Drop us a line and we will promptly connect you with our leading China expert!
What's your query?*
Contact Details