Chinese New Year is one of the biggest, if not the biggest celebration in Chinese culture. Many people take this opportunity to reunite with family members and friends that they haven't seen for the past year. However, no thanks to the pandemic, all reunions are off.
With that, many other Chinese New Year traditions will also be off the table, such as giving and receiving angpau packets, visiting houses of friends and families, drinking our favorite packet drinks (Chrysanthemum tea anyone?), and doing some "lousang" at restaurants.
Still, there are plenty of traditions we can still uphold so as to not let the festive spirit die off. We can wear new clothes, decorate our houses, and buy Chinese New Year snacks and have them delivered to our houses. But, we also have to keep in mind things that we CANNOT do according to Chinese culture during the Chinese New Year. Here are some of these things we should avoid and the reasons behind them:
1. Don't Break Things - It would be wise to keep any fragile things protected or out of reach during the Chinese New Year as breaking things on the first day symbolizes bad fortune and losing wealth. If you accidentally did break something, wrap them up with red paper and say "shui shui ping an" meaning "peace and safety every year" ("shui" sounds the same for "age" and "shattered" in Chinese).
2. Don't Shower or Wash Your Head - Showering or washing your head early on the first day symbolizes washing away all good fortune and prosperity. So, remember to shower the night before! Of course, for practical reasons, you should shower if you get dirty but try not to do it early in the day.
3. Don't Wake Someone Up By Calling Their Full Name - On the first day of the Chinese New Year, if you wake someone up by screaming their full name, you will doom them to an entire year of working at other people's commands, at least according to Chinese culture.
4. Don't Oversleep or Take Afternoon Naps - Both of these things symbolizes laziness, and in traditional Chinese culture, laziness is frowned upon. So try to stay active throughout the day!
5. Don't Sweep the House or Take Out The Trash - Sweeping the house symbolizes sweeping away good fortune and good luck. Meanwhile, taking out the trash means you're throwing money out of the house. So, do neither of these things. The modern approach to cleaning would be to vacuum any mess but remember to keep it in the vacuum until at least the next day!
6. Don't Do Laundry - There is a traditional myth that the first and second days of the Chinese New Year are the birthdays of the Water God. Doing your laundry on these days would upset the Water God.
7. Don't Cook Rice - The point here is to eat leftover food or leftover rice from the previous day (reunion dinner). This is to suggest that there is still an abundance of wealth (food) left until the next year (first day of Chinese New Year.)
8. Don't Eat Porridge or Medicine - Traditionally, porridge or medicines are only taken by the poor. So, eating those things would symbolize that you are poor. Of course, this doesn't apply to those who are actually sick, and is more targeted towards healthy people who take vitamins on a daily basis.
9. Don't Eat Meat - On the other hand, we shouldn't eat meat too. This is because we should not perform any killing on the first day of the Chinese New Year and eating meat is an indirect way of killing living things.
10. [9th Day of Chinese New Year] Don't Hang Clothes - In Chinese culture, the 9th day signifies the birthday of the Jade Emperor (also known as "The First God" or "King of The Heavens"). We definitely do not want to upset one of the most powerful gods in traditional Chinese culture by hanging clothes.
Of course, these Chinese cultures are deeply rooted in tradition so it might not be as practical in the modern world. However, by trying our best to keep in line with these taboos, not only do we keep our traditional cultures alive, but some of them helps us improve our lives too. We wish you a happy Chinese New Year and an abundance of good health and good fortune!