Chinese New Year Traditions Dos and Don’ts

In the blink of an eye, we’re about to bid farewell to the Year of the Rat and usher in the Year of the Ox. Chinese New Year is a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate a year of happiness, prosperity, health, and good fortune. But, there are certain rules to keep in mind during the festive season to avoid bad luck for the future year. Here’s a list of things of dos and don’ts that you should pay attention to!



Clean your home

Be sure to clean every inch of your home before the stroke of midnight on Chinese New Year’s eve. The aim here is to rid your home of any bad luck that’s accumulated over the past year. It is also a good idea to pay off credit card bills before the new year. According to superstition, if you start the new year in debt, it’s likely you’ll end it that way as well.


Have Reunion Dinner

Reunion dinner symbolises togetherness and a great start to the new year with the family. It is also when every family member can come together and celebrate the joyous event.


Stay up late on Chinese New Year’s Eve

Shou Sui (守岁)is a tradition where younger family members stay awake throughout the night after reunion dinner as a blessing of longevity for the elderly.


Greet everyone you meet

Remind to greet everyone by saying “恭喜发财”(Gong Xi Fa Cai), which means “Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year”. It’s part of the traditional mannerism to greet everyone you encounter during Chinese New Year, and they’ll most likely return the favour, too.


Wear red

To celebrate the new year, everyone should dress in brand new and bright clothes. You can’t go wrong with wearing red as it is a lucky colour in Chinese culture. It symbolises good luck and prosperity.



Wash or cut your hair

On the first day of Chinese New Year, you must not wash or cut your hair. If you wash your hair, it means that you’re washing your own fortune. In Mandarin, hair (发, fa) has the same pronunciation (and indeed is the same character) as fa in facai (发财), which means ‘to become wealthy’. Therefore, it is seen as not a good thing to “wash one’s fortune away” at the beginning of the New Year. Avoid cutting hair on this day, as it is believed to bring misfortune.


Sweep the floor or throw rubbish on the 1st day of CNY

Make sure you clean up and throw out your trash before midnight. Otherwise, you’re going to have to wait till the second day of the new lunar year. Cleaning of any kind on the first day is strictly forbidden. Don’t even wash the dishes. You cleaned your home to rid it of any bad luck before the New Year — now you want to be sure not to wipe, sweep or wash away any of the good fortunes that arrived at the stroke of midnight.


No odd amounts in Ang Bao

The general rule of thumb is to avoid gifting cash in odd numbers because it’s considered inauspicious. In Chinese culture, people prefer even numbers, as doubles are regarded as lucky. But also avoid unlucky numbers, such as 4 and 40, as 4 signifies death in Chinese.


Eating congee for breakfast

It is believed that eating porridge on the first day of Chinese New Year could bring poverty for the rest of the year. Having leftovers might not sound appealing, but according to Chinese New Year superstitions, eating leftovers of New Year’s Eve dinner is a symbol of having more than you need.


Wear black or white

Black and white are often associated with death and funerals, so don’t dress in black or white when you’re visiting friends or family during Chinese New Year.


Here’s wishing everyone an early Happy Chinese New Year! We hope you find this list of dos and don’ts helpful as you celebrate the Chinese New Year. Don’t forget to also bring along mandarin oranges (in pairs) for visiting during the Chinese New Year as the fruit in mandarin is ‘橘’, which sounds like ‘吉’, meaning ‘auspicious’.


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