Chinese New Year do’s and don’ts
Don't know much about the upcoming season? What about your knowledge of the holidays — is it getting a bit rusty? Avoid embarrassing or awkward situations with our quick round-up of Chinese New Year habits and customs.
When visiting a friend, remove your shoes at the entrance as you would in most Asian homes. Shoes may bring in dirt and dust. Remember that homeowners aren't allowed to sweep their houses on the first day of the festival — it's considered bad luck.
Do… bring a gift
It is customary to exchange a pair of mandarin oranges with your host, a gesture that wishes him or her an auspicious and prosperous New Year. This practice dates back to ancient China, where public officials, mandarins, will pass the delectable fruits around as gifts during the festive season. It was no coincidence the fruit matched their bright orange court robes. Hosts will also welcome any additional gifts of fruits, food and alcohol.
Do… give red packets
It is also customary for married individuals to distribute red packets to single unmarried individuals as a token. Prepare the red packets with crisp new notes, and make sure the sum is an even number — giving an odd sum is considered bad luck. You will not want to mess with a centuries-old tradition which predates to a small village in the Song Dynasty period. According to legend, a young orphan helped to slay a huge demon which was plaguing the village - and in gratitude, the village elders presented him a red envelop filled with money for his courage in saving them.
Do… say positive things
You want to start off on a good note. By only talking about pleasant things and wishing your friends and family well, you ensure a smooth and auspicious transition to the year ahead.
Do… wear red
It is the best colour to wear during this season not only because it is considered lucky, but because its vibrant hue is considered appropriate for festive celebrations.
Don't… wear black or white
Associated with death, these colours are considered unlucky and a fashion faux pas during the lunar festival.
Don't… finish everything on your plate
Most Chinese mothers want their children to finish up every grain of rice on their plate during mealtimes, the opposite holds true for reunion dinners. You should always leave some food- especially fish- on your plate, so that symbolically some of the money you've earned from the previous year will be carried over to the New Year http://chinesenewyear2014.biz.
Don't… cut your hair
By cutting your hair within the first 15 days of the New Year, you could be 'snipping' your wealth away.
Don't… handle books, pears or clocks
All these objects have negative connotations attached to them, so try not to touch or use them during the festive season. Try not to read books in the presence of mahjong players, serve pears to your friends and family, or prepare clocks as gifts during this period.
There are so many traditions and customs to follow during Chinese New Year, but do remember that it's a time to relax with your friends and family. The season is about being with them, after all.