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.

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 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.

Gender Taboos:

1. When worshipping the stove god, women are not allowed to participate.

2. It is regarded unlucky if a married woman visits her parents’ home between the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month and the 2nd day of the New Year.

By Shirley Li
Web Editor