Chinese New Year is here again!
Traditionally, there are many taboos around CNY, particularly the 除夕 (chu xi), or first day of Chinese New Year, as it is believed the things you do then will affect your luck in the coming year.
While younger generation Chinese pay a lot less attention to these taboos in recent years, lets take a look at some CNY taboos that really don’t make sense.
1. No taking medicine/ visiting the hospital
Taking medicine, or even simply brewing herbal medicine (eg. herbal tea) is believed to cause the person who does to get ill for a whole year.
Let us just say that if you are ill, and on medicine (e.g. antibiotics) PLEASE TAKE YOUR MEDICINE!
Unless some magical placebo effect takes place, not taking medicine/ visiting the hospital could be very detrimental to your health.
2. No Crying
Crying, particularly from children, is traditionally believed to bring bad luck to the family, so much so that parents often do whatever they can to keep their kids from bawling.
However, keeping one’s emotions inside of oneself is pretty bad practice.
For example, this year, if you had your heart broken during Valentine’s Day, you could still be suffering from the emotional setback on the 除夕 (chu xi). In that case, go ahead and bawl your eyes out.
Parents! Trying to keep your kids from crying by pampering them could lead them to take special treatment for granted! Keep them in check, and strictly disciplining them not to throw tantrums is important as well.
3. No hair washing
Washing your hair is believed to be bad because of a pun.
In Mandarin, hair (发) has the same pronunciation as fa in facai (发财), which means ‘to become wealthy’.
Hence, washing your hair is tantamount to “washing one’s fortune away” at the start of the New Year.
However, please please please wash your hair. Your relatives will probably not want to greet you when you are a sticky mess with dandruff powdering your shoulders.
4. Don’t say a person’s name/’Happy New Year’ to wake them
This is a somewhat strange tradition, which goes by the basis that if you wake someone up on CNY, you’ll have to urge them to do things all year.
Well, sometimes you really have to visit a relatives house at a certain arranged time, and your children/siblings are simply being lazy and sleeping wayyy too much.
You’re pretty much left with no choice but to wake them up.
But in any case, ‘having to urge them to do things all year’. Isn’t that something all parents are used to already anyway?
5. Don’t sweep/ take out garbage.
Sweeping on the first day of the New Year is believed to be sweeping wealth away, while taking out garbage symbolizes dumping out good fortune from the house.
Of course, if you can afford not sweeping as your family has already done an impeccable job spring cleaning, good on you.
But for those of us with many relatives coming over: just imagine the house after multiple preteens/babies streak through it, dropping the crumbs from their half-eaten new year goodies everywhere.
It’s probably a better idea to just sweep the floor.
6. Don’t use a knife or scissors.
This comes from the saying: ”If you use a knife or scissors on the first day, quarrels or disputes are inevitable.”
However, in the event you have to whip up a quick meal, or open up a particularly tough packet of CNY goodies – a sharp object might come in handy.
Of course, you can also use them to threaten the annoying baby cousins/nephews that come and mess up your house. (Nah we’re just joking)
7. Don’t eat congee for breakfast
This tradition comes from ancient Chinese times when the poor could only afford congee for breakfast, hence leading to the mindset that eating porridge on CNY would result in poverty.
However, let’s say there is someone sick and porridge is the best choice – that person ought to just go ahead and consume the porridge.
8. Don’t nap
It is traditionally believed that napping during CNY will cause you to become lazy the whole year.
Well, there is an element of practicality to this point, though.
If you’re napping and relatives happen to visit, it would be pretty rude not to welcome them properly.
However, a quick power nap in between visitations should be permissible, given that you’ll want to have that extra energy to socialise and interact well with all of your relatives.
Are there other CNY taboos that don’t make any sense? Let us know in the Facebook comments!