Gong Xi Fa Cai! We wish you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year). To make a fresh start with good fortune, Thai-Chinese locals adhere to some Chinese New Year superstitions and taboos. Here’s a list of things not to do on Chinese New Year.
11 Things NOT to Do on Chinese New Year
1. Doing house chores
Don’t: It seems strange that such a good thing to do is one of things not to do on Chinese New Year, but there are explanations for this. Since the old days, Chinese people have always been working hard every day during the year. When Chinese New Year’s Day comes, they take a day or days off from work and also don’t do housework. It’s considered unlucky to do work and chores on the first day of the year as it symbolizes going through hardships through the year.
There are more specific Chinese New Year superstitions related to house chores as well. Sweeping dirt and dust out of the house and dumping trash are believed to be sweeping away and dumping good fortune. Washing clothes on the first two days of Lunar New Year is also considered an offense to the Water God as it’s the god’s birthday.
Do: Make sure your house is tidy before Lunar New Year, so you can rest and celebrate to the fullest. If you need to sweep dirt and dust, don’t sweep them out through the front door. Instead, sweep them inward and take them out through the back door.
2. Washing and cutting hair
Don’t: Washing and cutting your hair are like washing away and cutting off your prosperity and wealth and thus is among the things not to do on Chinese New Year.
Do: It’s great to groom yourself before Lunar New Year, so you look your best from the first day of the year!
3. Using sharp utensils
Don’t: Sharp cooking utensils are not to be used on Chinese New Year. When preparing meals, Thai-Chinese families will avoid ingredients that need to be cut as using sharp utensils is like cutting good luck out of your life.
Using scissors during the first month is also one of Chinese New Year taboos as it symbolizes fighting with others.
Do: You might want to prepare everything beforehand if you want to cook up a feast. Or maybe, go out to enjoy festivities and great meals at these places to visit during Chinese New Year in Thailand!
4. Wearing black or white clothes
Don’t: Black and white. The colors that are used in tragic events such as funerals. It isn’t hard to see why wearing black or white clothes is one of the things not to do on Chinese New Year.
Do: Wear red as it’s a lucky color for the Chinese. It’s bright and brings positive energy.
5. Lending money
Don’t: Letting someone borrow your money is also one of the things not to do on Chinese New Year. According to Lunar New Year beliefs, more and more borrowers will come to you all through the year.
Do: In addition to not lending money to others, be sure you return all the money that you owe before Chinese New Year.
Don’t: Weeping on the first day of Chinese New Year isn’t a good beginning, isn’t it? Chinese New Year taboos have it that those who cry will be crying throughout the year.
Another foreboding reason is that children’s crying is believed to bring misfortune to the whole family.
Do: Be happy and make sure your loved ones are happy. Smile and wish others a Happy Chinese New Year. If you have children, avoid punishing them. Yes, even if they’re naughty, everyone seems to tolerate them during Chinese New Year.
7. Breaking stuff in your house
Don’t: This isn’t only a Chinese New Year superstition, but also a traditional Thai belief. When something is broken in the house, it’s an ill omen that bad things might have happened to a family member or loved one.
Do: We should be careful at all times, not only on Lunar New Year, aren’t we?
8. Saying bad words and cursing
Don’t: Swearing, saying words with negative meanings (e.g. death, poverty, ghost) and bad-mouthing are things not to do on Chinese New Year as they will bring you bad luck all year long. The word “sì” for “4” is also considered a bad word since it sounds similar to “death” in Chinese.
Do: According to Chinese New Year superstitions, saying nice things and being kind will bring joy and luck to you.
9. Going into other people’s bedrooms
Don’t: One of things not to do on Chinese New Year is to wake someone up and greet them in their bedroom. As the belief goes, the one woken up will have to work to exhaustion throughout the year.
Do: Let your family members rest and then you can spend time together in the living room. New Year is a family time, after all.
10. Buying new shoes
Don’t: The reason why buying new shoes is one of the things not to do on Chinese New Year is related to the language. This superstition comes from one Chinese ethnic group in Thailand, Chaozhou or Teochew. The word “shoes” in their language is “hoi”, which sounds similar to “hai” or “sigh” in English. Sighing at the start of the year is like you’re already stressed about something and that’s not a good way to begin, right?
Do: Buy new shoes beforehand or have spare pairs at the ready.
11. Eating congee for breakfast
Don’t: As the less fortunate in China could only afford congee in the past, congee is considered an inappropriate food to serve as the first meal of the year.
Do: The idea of eating leftovers might not sound very appealing. However, eating the leftovers of New Year’s Eve dinner symbolizes having more than needed according to Chinese New Year superstitions.
TakeMeTour hopes you enjoyed this local knowledge about things not to do on Chinese New Year. Even if you aren’t of Chinese descent and don’t have to observe these Thai-Chinese traditions, it’s good to know what color to wear or how to behave. This is how you can blend in with Thai-Chinese locals when joining Chinese New Year festivities!
Original article by Kate
Rewritten by Gift (Updated in February 2019)