Last Updated on 2024-02-07 , 10:59 am
Everyone is familiar with the fundamental aspects of Chinese New Year, such as enjoying a reunion dinner on the eve, visiting relatives and friends, and partaking in the overall celebrations.
However, it might be less commonly known that the traditional 15-day period of Chinese New Year encompasses its own set of customs and practices.
Most, if not all, of our Chinese readers are aware of this. Read on to learn about the significance and traditional observances for each of these 15 days so you can impress your friends with your newfound knowledge of Chinese New Year!
If you prefer to watch a video instead, here you go:
初一 (First Day of CNY, Falling on 10 February 2024)
This marks the initial day following our reunion dinners, typically when families venture out to visit friends and relatives. While many are familiar with this aspect of the first day, certain taboos are associated with it.
As you’ve heard from your parents and older relatives, it is advised not to engage in activities like sweeping the floor, discarding trash, or pouring away water, as these actions symbolise the disposal of good fortune.
Additionally, caution is advised against breaking anything, as it is seen as a symbol of financial decline. Hence, spending the entire day outdoors can help evade these potential sources of bad luck.
House visiting on this day also follows specific customs, emphasising the importance of visiting senior members of extended families first to convey good fortune (and possibly receive ang pows in return).
初二 (Second Day of CNY, Falling on 11 February 2024)
A notable tradition on the second day of the Chinese New Year, known as 初二, involves welcoming sons-in-law.
In Chinese cultural norms, the wife becomes a part of the husband’s family upon marriage. On this day, the wife brings her husband back to her parental home. According to tradition, the couple is expected to have lunch at the wife’s parents’ home but must return before dinner.
This occasion provides an opportunity for sisters to reunite and for the family’s younger members to receive gifts. Remember to take a lot of selfies as families usually take photos together today!
Additionally, some individuals offer prayers to the God of Fortune on the second day, wishing good luck and prosperity throughout the upcoming year.
初三 (Third Day of CNY, Falling on 12 February 2024)
On the third day of Chinese New Year, known as 初三, it is referred to as 赤口/赤狗, translating to the day of red mouths or red dogs. Traditionally, people tend to stay indoors on this day because the red mouths signify a heightened likelihood of encountering conflicts and arguments with others.
The term red dogs is associated with the God of Blazing Wrath, making the day entirely inauspicious and unsuitable for house visits.
Some individuals use this day to declutter their homes, disposing of accumulated trash from the preceding days as a symbolic act of casting away bad luck. This practice aligns with the preference to stay home, as people leaving could be confused with the spirits of misfortune leaving the house.
Given the perceived negative energies associated with this day, it is a common sentiment that the potential misfortune outweighs the benefits of receiving ang pows through house visits.
Unfortunately for many, this is also the day work resumes, as the official days off are 10 and 11 February 2024 and since 11 February is a Sunday, 12 February is the first working day.
Interestingly, there is a running joke amongst employees that their bosses might actually be the God of Fortune, as some bosses tend to give substantial ang pows (yay!!) to those returning to work on the first working day after the New Year break.
初四 (Fourth Day of CNY, Falling on 13 February 2024
The fourth day of the Chinese New Year, known as 初四, is the official day dedicated to praying to the God of Fortune, as it is considered his birthday. People observe this occasion by arranging feasts and making offerings to welcome the God into their homes.
Traditional offerings typically include various fruits, goat’s heads, and carp. Additionally, it serves as a day to express gratitude to the Kitchen God and wish for a more prosperous new year than the previous one.
初五 (Fifth Day of CNY, Falling on 14 February 2024)
初五 is another day dedicated to dispelling bad luck and misfortune from the household. This day is also referred to as 破五, which translates to “break five,” symbolising the removal of five main misfortunes.
These misfortunes encompass the ill fate associated with wisdom, education, literary ability, overall destiny, and relationships. Traditionally, people use firecrackers to drive away these misfortunes. Still, in some places, like Singapore, where firecrackers are restricted, alternative methods may be employed, like using a firecracker app.
初六 (Sixth Day of CNY, Falling on 15 February 2024)
Happy 初六! Today is considered a day of freedom and particularly auspicious for travel. Today, there is a tradition of discarding trash, symbolising the removal of misfortune.
Many people take the opportunity to visit temples, friends, and relatives, spreading good wishes for the new year.
初七 (Seventh Day of CNY, Falling on 16 February 2024)
初七 is indeed a special day in Chinese tradition, celebrated as the traditional birthday of Man, believed to be created by the goddess 女娲 from mud. People often consume noodles for longevity or enjoy a thick soup made with various vegetables to mark this occasion.
Many individuals also take advantage of this day to travel or go out, making it a joyful and celebratory occasion. If you only have a budget for only one yusheng, 初七 would be an ideal day to indulge in this festive dish (remember to snatch that salmon slice up!).
Additionally, preparing a special porridge on this day is believed to bring good grades in the new year. This is particularly noteworthy for students who aspire to academic success in the coming year.
Oh, just for your info, DPM Lawrence Wong would also be giving his Budget Speech on this day, so cross your fingers for some hongbao!
初八 (Eighth Day of CNY, Falling on 17 February 2024)
On 初八, the eighth day of the Chinese New Year, it is a tradition to offer prayers to the God of Heaven, expressing hopes for a bountiful harvest in the new year. According to belief, if the day is clear, it signifies a prediction of a good harvest. Conversely, if the day is cloudy or rainy, it is seen as an omen of poor harvest throughout the year.
Moreover, it is said that on this day, various deities of the stars descend from heaven, creating a night sky ideal for stargazing. This celestial event adds a touch of romance to the day, making it a perfect opportunity for appreciating the beauty of the stars.
初九 (Ninth Day of CNY, Falling on 18 February 2024)
The ninth day of the Chinese New Year, 初九, holds significance as the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity in Chinese mythology. Traditional celebrations include rituals and feasts held in honour of the Jade Emperor, and it is a day when people offer prayers to him for good fortune, prosperity, and good health.
Indeed, there is a noticeable pattern in the festivities of many days during the Chinese New Year, with a common theme of prayers and wishes for good fortune. This mirrors the tradition of extending well wishes for prosperity and blessings to relatives and friends during house visits and other festive activities.
初十 (Tenth Day of CNY, Falling on 19 February 2024)
初十 is traditionally regarded as the birthday of stones. Today, it is customary to cease using stone tools and pay homage to the gods of stone.
While the significance of this tradition might not be directly relevant in modern contexts where stone tools are not commonly used (unless your smartphone is made out of stone, of course), the day is still observed in this manner.
Moreover, 初十 is considered inauspicious for construction activities due to its association with stones.
正月十一 (Eleventh Day of CNY, Falling on 20 February 2024)
On the eleventh day of the Chinese New Year, 正月十一, a unique tradition involves the father-in-law treating the son-in-law to a meal. This meal typically includes the abundant leftovers from the feasts held in the preceding days.
Contrary to any potential perception of stinginess, this practice is quite generous, considering that the leftovers are often from the feasts organized to honour the Jade Emperor. It becomes an opportunity for married people to enjoy a meal the father-in-law provides.
正月十二 (Twelfth Day of CNY, Falling on 21 February 2024)
On the twelfth day of the Chinese New Year, 正月十二, preparations officially commence for the Lantern Festival, which is held on 正月十五. This day marks the beginning of building lanterns and other festival equipment in anticipation of the upcoming celebration.
In addition to the preparations, the tradition of enjoying hearty meals has continued for the past few days. The festive spirit is kept alive with the appreciation of good food, emphasising the importance of communal feasting during this joyous period.
正月十三 (Thirteenth Day of CNY, Falling on 22 February 2024)
On the thirteenth day of the Chinese New Year, the preparations for the Lantern Festival persist from the previous day. This involves the ongoing construction of lanterns and festival-related structures and the commencement of placing lanterns along the streets.
Moreover, 正月十三 marks a shift in dietary habits. Light meals and diets become the norm, serving the dual purpose of cleansing the body from the rich and greasy foods consumed during the initial days of celebration and assisting in weight management.
正月十四 (Fourteenth Day of CNY, Falling on 23 February 2024)
The fourteenth day of the Chinese New Year, 正月十四, serves as the final day of preparations leading up to the Lantern Festival. On this day, various activities take place, including rehearsals for performances and the testing of lit lanterns to ensure their readiness for the upcoming celebration.
Additionally, people engage in the purchase of lanterns, contributing to the vibrant atmosphere of the festival. Traditional rice balls are also prepared in anticipation of the celebrations on the following day.
正月十五 (Fifteenth Day of CNY, Falling on 24 February 2024)
正月十五 is the Lantern Festival, the grand finale of sorts of the Chinese New Year celebrations. On this day, vibrant and colourful lanterns are hung in celebration, creating a festive atmosphere. It is significant as the first night of the new year to witness a full moon.
The streets come alive with various performances, including traditional lion dances. As night falls, it becomes optimal to enjoy the illuminated lanterns. Many of these lanterns feature riddles, adding an element of fun and intellectual engagement to the celebration.
Families gather for another reunion dinner on this particular day, often enjoying glutinous rice balls. These rice balls hold cultural significance and add a sweet note to the concluding festivities. Additionally, 正月十五 is one of the last opportunities for house visits, so go out there and get those last few ang pows!
Traditional Chinese New Year is actually the longest festival around, if you think about it, with things to do on every day for fifteen days straight. Which makes for an excellent excuse to binge on all the good food, and go for lots of house visiting!
Also, if you spent fifteen straight days praying for good fortune, chances are it’s going to be quite difficult to get any bad luck for the rest of the year.
In the meantime, you might want to read this article on the best date to start work based on your Chinese zodiac.
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