Chinese New Year Taboos – What Not to Do During the Lunar New Year

As the Year of the Dragon draws near, memories of my childhood flood back, filled with tales from my parents and grandparents about the do’s and don’ts of Chinese New Year. It always amused me how seriously they took these traditions, even though we often didn’t follow them to the letter. Still, I believe there’s something special in honouring these age-old taboos and traditions. So, as we get ready to embrace the vibrant celebrations ahead, let’s take a moment to appreciate and respect the cultural customs that make Chinese New Year so rich and meaningful. Here’s a list of 20 Chinese New Year taboos to keep in mind for a prosperous and harmonious start to the Lunar New Year.

20 Chinese New Year Taboos

Chinese New Year Taboos

1. Avoid Sweeping and Cleaning

Contrary to the usual practice of spring cleaning to welcome a fresh start, it’s best to put away your brooms and dusters during Chinese New Year. Why? Well, it’s believed that sweeping or cleaning on New Year’s Day might sweep away your good luck and fortune. Instead, tidy up your home beforehand and relax during the celebrations.

Chinese New Year Taboos

2. Refrain from Using Scissors or Knives

Sharp objects like scissors and knives symbolise the cutting of wealth and relationships. So, resist the urge to trim your hair or use scissors to open those ang bao. It’s better to wait a few days until after the festivities have concluded.

3. Don’t Break Things

Accidents happen, but during Chinese New Year, extra care should be taken to avoid breaking objects, especially glassware or ceramics. Breaking something is believed to bring bad luck and could symbolise shattered relationships or financial loss. So, handle fragile items with care!

Chinese New Year Taboos

4. Avoid Debts and Lending Money

Starting the new year with debts or borrowing money is seen as setting a negative tone for the months ahead. Likewise, lending money during this time may lead to financial disputes or strained relationships. It’s better to settle debts before the Lunar New Year begins and refrain from borrowing or lending during the festivities.

5. Don’t Mention Unfortunate Topics

While catching up with family and friends, it’s customary to avoid discussing topics like death, illness, or other unfortunate events during Chinese New Year. These conversations are believed to bring negativity and may dampen the festive spirit. Instead, focus on sharing positive experiences and aspirations for the coming year.

6. Avoid Eating Unlucky Foods

Certain foods are considered unlucky during Chinese New Year due to their negative connotations. For example, porridge is associated with poverty, while bitter or sour foods symbolise hardship. Instead, indulge in traditional auspicious dishes like dumplings, fish, and longevity noodles to attract good fortune and prosperity.

Chinese New Year Taboos

7. Refrain from Wearing Black or White

Black and white are traditionally worn at funerals in Chinese culture, so it’s best to avoid these colours during the New Year celebrations. Opt for vibrant, auspicious colours like red, gold, or yellow to symbolise joy, luck, and prosperity.

8. Don’t Visit the Doctor

Unless it’s an emergency, visiting the doctor during Chinese New Year is generally avoided. It’s believed that seeking medical treatment during this time may invite illness or health problems throughout the year. So, take precautions to stay healthy leading up to the festivities and save any non-urgent medical appointments for after the celebrations.

9. Avoid Arguing or Quarrelling

Maintain harmony and positivity by avoiding arguments or quarrels during Chinese New Year gatherings. Instead, focus on fostering goodwill and strengthening relationships with family and friends. Remember, the New Year is a time for joy and unity, so set aside any differences and embrace the spirit of togetherness.

10. Don’t Wash Your Hair

Washing your hair on New Year’s Day is believed to wash away your good luck and prosperity. So, make sure to wash your hair before the celebrations begin and refrain from doing so on the day itself. Instead, pamper yourself with a luxurious hair treatment in the days leading up to the New Year to ensure that you start the year off feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

11. Avoid Wearing Damaged Clothes

Wearing damaged or tattered clothes during Chinese New Year may symbolise poverty or hardship. Dress in clean, well-maintained attire to attract good fortune and prosperity for the year ahead. Treat yourself to a new outfit or take the time to mend any damaged garments to ensure that you step into the New Year with confidence and style.

12. Refrain from Using Negative Words

Words have power, so avoid using negative or unlucky words during the Lunar New Year celebrations. Choose your language wisely to promote positivity and optimism for the coming year. Instead of dwelling on past disappointments or setbacks, focus on expressing gratitude for the blessings in your life and setting intentions for a bright and prosperous future.

13. Don’t Cry or Shed Tears

Crying or shedding tears during Chinese New Year is believed to bring misfortune and sadness. Stay cheerful and optimistic, focusing on the joyous moments shared with loved ones during the festivities. If you feel overwhelmed with emotion, take a moment to compose yourself in private and then rejoin the celebrations with a smile on your face and warmth in your heart.

14. Avoid Leaving Empty Rice Bowls

Leaving empty rice bowls on the table symbolises hunger and poverty. Ensure that everyone’s rice bowl is filled to signify abundance and prosperity for the year ahead. Take this opportunity to share a delicious meal with your loved ones, expressing gratitude for the nourishment and blessings that the New Year brings.

15. Don’t Point at People

Pointing at people is considered impolite and may bring about conflict or discord. Use gestures or words to communicate respectfully, promoting harmony and understanding among friends and family. Remember to show kindness and empathy towards others, fostering a sense of unity and connection during the festive season.

16. Avoid Giving Clocks or Watches as Gifts

Clocks and watches symbolise the passage of time and may be interpreted as a reminder of mortality. Choose more auspicious gifts to convey well wishes and blessings for the New Year. Consider gifting items that symbolise luck, prosperity, and happiness, such as red envelopes filled with money or decorative ornaments adorned with traditional Chinese symbols.

17. Don’t Sweep Out Good Luck

Avoid sweeping out the front door during Chinese New Year, as it may sweep away your good luck and fortune. Instead, focus on inviting positive energy into your home by keeping the entrance clean and welcoming. Consider decorating your doorway with auspicious symbols and colourful decorations to attract prosperity and happiness into your life.

18. Don’t Wear Damaged Shoes

Wearing damaged or worn-out shoes may symbolise a journey filled with obstacles and hardships. Start the New Year on the right foot by wearing sturdy, well-maintained footwear to symbolise progress and prosperity. Treat yourself to a new pair of shoes or take the time to clean and polish your existing ones to ensure that you step into the New Year with confidence and determination.

Chinese New Year Taboos

19. Avoid Washing Clothes

Washing clothes on New Year’s Day is believed to wash away good fortune and luck. Refrain from doing laundry during the first few days of the Lunar New Year to ensure that you preserve the blessings and prosperity of the auspicious occasion.

20. Refrain from Taking Out the Garbage

Taking out the garbage during Chinese New Year is believed to discard good luck and prosperity along with the trash. Hold off on disposing of rubbish until after the festive period to avoid inadvertently removing blessings from your home and family.

Conclusion: Embrace Tradition with Respect

As we welcome the Year of the Dragon, let’s honour these Chinese New Year taboos with respect and mindfulness. By avoiding these actions, we not only uphold tradition but also invite prosperity, harmony, and joy into our lives for the coming year.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year!

Leave a Comment