10 CNY Traditions Explained to You in 60 Seconds

It’s that time of the year again where shopping malls are dressed in auspicious red and singing enthusiastically with CNY songs. No sweeping of floors on the first day of Chinese New Year, no cutting of hair till your parents says it’s okay to do so, etc.

We have heard a lot about the practices of households that celebrates Chinese New Year but do we recognise the significance behind these traditions? 

These 60 seconds will give you a better insight of why we should heed to our parents’ advice when they tell us not to cut our nails on CNY. 

1. Spring Cleaning

Hate it or love it, spring cleaning usually takes place before the Lunar New Year, not just for practical purposes of ridding old stuff, but also to signify getting rid of bad luck. Remember that old soft toy that was chucked at the corner of your room? Leaving it there is like leaving misfortune for the new year in your life. 

2. The Colour Red

Red; the colour of ang bao given during house visits. The question is, why red? For a long time in the Chinese culture, Red has always been a symbol of good fortune and joy. It is used to scare away spirits of bad fortune and to protect villages from harm. 

It is a no wonder that red paper cuttings with auspicious words and lucky animals are always seen pasted around the walls of the house and outside the main door. 

3. Reunion Dinner

Usually, on the eve of CNY, family members gather together to catch up and have a reunion dinner. This tradition helps to keep the family bonded, symbolising a good start to the new year. With sumptuous meals and your dearest family members with you, your New Year is bound to have a great start!

4. Ang Baos

What makes household visits so exciting as a kid was when we all received ang baos from our relatives and our neighbours. Ang baos are given to children by adults and grown up children also give ang baos to their elderly parents and grandparents as blessings. Amounts are usually given in even numbers, and the number “4” is avoided. In this case, 8 dollars is the perfect amount to give, given that “8” is an auspicious number. The more the merrier ain’t it? 

5. Sharp Objects

Cut it out! No handling of sharp objects such as knives and scissors on the first day of CNY, you wouldn’t want to cut off any good fortune coming your way. So do remember to get a haircut and your nails done before CNY!

6. Books

If you’re a bookworm, hold out on buying any books during CNY. “Book” is a homonym for “lose” in Cantonese and Mandarin, and you wouldn’t want to lose any good fortune! Reading, however, is permitted.  

7. Crying

Hold your tears! As crying on CNY means that you’ll be crying throughout the year, punishments are usually spared on the first day. Good news for all children out there!

8. Washing Hair

No washing of hair on the first day either, you wouldn’t want to wash away the good luck that you’ve gotten!

9. New Clothings

The Chinese believe that it is good luck to wear new clothes and shoes on the first day of Chinese New Year. Bright coloured dresses and traditional cheongsams are usually worn. Avoid black or any dark coloured clothing; the brighter you are, the better luck you get! Fashionistas, anyone? 

10. Bai Nian

What is Chinese New Year without Bai Nian? People will show up with either two or four mandarin oranges to the host of the homes they visit. Another set of oranges will be given back as a way of returning blessings. Oranges signify luck and prosperity. Within the first 15 days of Chinese New Year, it is the most important period for Bai Nian. 

So, are you ready for this year’s CNY?

Featured Image: rakuten.com

This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

Vanessa Ong

Vanessa Ong

An eighteen-year-old girl who is fond of words and the wonders of the world. Perpetually lost in her own thoughts, easily excitable and appreciates a great deal of humour.
Vanessa Ong