Chinese New Year: Superstitions and taboos

Lunar New Year is the time for families to celebrate together and to bring in good luck for the New Year. However, there are taboos and superstitions that many people stay away from to avoid bad luck for the rest of the year.

Avoid taking medicine

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It is a taboo for a person to take medicine or brew herbal medicine on the first day of the Lunar New Year unless it’s an emergency. It is believed he or she will get sick for the whole year.

Don’t sweep or take out the garbage

Sweeping is associated with sweeping wealth away and taking out the garbage symbolizes dumping out good luck or good fortune from the house on New Year’s Day. Leave the cleaning for the next day.

Don’t wash clothes and hair

Washing your clothes on the first and second day of celebrations should be avoided because the two days celebrate the water god’s birthday. The Chinese character for hair is the same character meaning “to become wealthy.” If someone washes their hair, they would be considered washing away their fortune.

Don’t cut your hair

Similar to not washing your hair, cutting your hair is also a symbol of bad luck. When a person cuts their hair, it is associated with cutting their fortune away. Hair cutting should take place a month before or after the lunar month.

Avoid borrowing money

It is believed that debts should be paid by Lunar New Year’s Eve and money should not be lent on New Year’s Day. If money is lent to others, it’s an unlucky omen of economical loss. On the other hand, if someone owes you money, don’t go to their home and demand it, it’s also unlucky you.

Don’t wear white or black clothes

White or black clothing are associated with funerals and mourning the dead. The colours symbolize depression and inauspicious things. Wearing red or bright colours bring the best luck during New Year celebrations.

Married daughters shouldn’t visit their parents’ house

It is believed that if a married daughter visits her parents’ house on New Year’s Day it will cause economic hardship for the family. Traditionally, a married daughter will visit her parents on the second day of Lunar New Year.

Don’t give certain gifts

Lunar celebrations are about giving red pockets and food. However, there are certain items that shouldn’t be given at all especially at the start of a new year. Make sure to avoid gifting clocks, scissors and pears as gifts, as they are associated with death and going away in Asian culture.


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