Chinese New Year Taboos » 10 Things You Should Not Do

The Spring Festival is a time of celebration and commemoration.  You are meant to welcome the new year with positivity to allow fortune and prosperity into your life. Nevertheless, strict rules and restrictions apply to the somber ceremonies practiced during the holiday. To make sure fortune is on your side, Chinese New Year has listed these ten Chinese New Year superstitions!

Chinese New Year Taboos

Avoid saying negative words

Uttering words with negative connotations is prohibited during the Spring Festival. These include terms like death, sick, kill, pain, poor, and break among others. Obviously, the reason for this is to avoid hexing yourself. You wouldn’t want to bring the negativity before you and your family. Instead, you can learn about the basic Chinese New Year greetings.

Be careful when handling glass or ceramics

Breaking ceramics or glass is equivalent to breaking your connection with fortune and prosperity. Thankfully, you can avert the damage by wrapping the broken pieces in red paper. The color red is very significant to Chinese culture as seen in many traditional Chinese New Year clothes and lucky Chinese New Year decoration.

a plate split in half, one of the notorious chinese new year taboos
Breaking glass in the New Year breaks your connection with fortune and prosperity!

You must also murmur auspicious phrases while gathering the pieces. Suì suì píng ān (岁岁平安) is a popular expression. It conveys wishes of peace and security for the coming years.

Suì (岁) is also a homophone of the Chinese word for“broken” or “shattered” (碎). So be careful with glassware when eating delicious Chinese New Year food or drinking Chinese New Year drinks! After the New Year, throw the shards wrapped in red paper into a lake or river.  The red paper was also used to wrap luck money before the emergence of the Chinese red pocket or red envelope.

Do not sweep the floor

Sweeping the floor is one of the more well-known Chinese New Year taboos. It is generally forbidden to sweep the floor on the Spring Festival as it is equivalent to sweeping away good luck. On the contrary, a day before the festival is dedicated specifically for cleaning and sweeping away bad luck. Check out the dates of the festivities in the updated Chinese New Year calendar 2021.

a rice straw broom used to sweep the floor
Sweeping the floor in the New Year is like sweeping away good luck!

There is a way to clean your floor without turning down good luck. You just have to make sure that you start the outer edges of your home and sweep inwards. Afterward, you can throw away garbage on the fifth day after the festival.

Keep off sharp objects like scissors, needles, and knives

In the past, using scissors and needles on the Spring Festival was prohibited to allow women to rest. It is also believed that sharp objects can cut your stream of wealth and success. Many if not all hair salons are also closed during the holidays because cutting hair is one of the more famous Chinese New Year taboos.  These businesses resume operations on February 2 of the Lunar Calendar when all festivities are over.

two wooden needles used for knitting, chinese new year taboos
Sharp objects can cut your stream of wealth and success!

Refrain from visiting your in-laws

Multiple generations live together in traditional Chinese families and the bride usually moves into the groom’s home after the wedding. She should then celebrate the New Year with her in-laws.

A wife returning to her parents is a sign of marital problems. If she does this on New Year’s Day, it could bring a series of marital problems and bad luck for the entire family throughout the year.

Instead, the wife is allowed to visit her parents on the second day of the Spring Festival. Couples are encouraged to bring their children with them and offer modest gifts.

Do not request for repayment of debts

This tradition illustrates one’s capability of being understanding. It allows everyone to enjoy the festivities without worry. It is believed that knocking on someone’s door to collect a debt can bring bad luck to both parties. Nevertheless, you can collect your due after the fifth day.

a man grabbing his empty pockets
Collecting debt or borrowing money on New Year’s Day brings you bad luck!

Borrowing money is also one of these Chinese New Year taboos. If you borrow money on the day of the festival, you could end up being indebted for the rest of the year!

Avoid fighting or crying

To make sure your path to the new year is smooth, try not to fight or cry. If a child cries, they should not be reprimanded. All issues that arise during the Spring Festival have to be addressed in a peaceful manner. Neighbors may even come over to try and resolve any problem in the household!

the sad face of a child
Do not reprimand a child when they cry on New Year’s Day

Refrain from taking medication

One of the more notorious Chinese New Year taboos dictates that taking medicine during the Spring Festival can make you prone to sickness for the entire year. Needless to say, your health should be your primary concern if you have a chronic illness, get in an accident, or contract a serious disease. You should likewise avoid visiting the doctor, undergoing surgery, or getting injected.

a pile of medicine, taking these is on new year's day is one of the more known chinese new year taboos
Don’t take medicine on New Year’s Day or else you will be sickly throughout the year!

Do not wake someone from sleep

It is believed that if you wake someone from their sleep on the New Year, they will be bossed around and rushed around for the entire year. If I were you, I would take advantage of this and sleep as much as long as I want to!

Also, giving bài nián (拜年) is customary during the Spring Festival. But you have to make sure the recipient gets out of bed first. If not, they will be bed-ridden all year round.

Do not give a clock as a gift

In Chinese culture, it is absolutely fine to be modest when giving gifts. It is the thought that counts after all. However, there are items that you should never give as gifts for the Spring Festival and clocks are the worst of them. In Chinese, sòng zhōng (送钟) or “gifting clocks” is a homophone of 送终 or “paying one’s late respects.”

a clock, giving this as a gift for the New Year is one of the more notorious chinese new year taboos
The Chinese term for “gifting clocks” sounds like the Chinese term for “paying one’s late respects.”

There are some regions with their own Chinese New Year taboos. In Mandarin, píng guǒ (苹果) means “apple.” But in Shanghainese, it is bing1 gu, which sounds similar to “passed away from sickness.”

Although the Chinese New Year taboos sound excessive to many, being cautious is always a good measure. Besides, following these rules can result in fortune and prosperity throughout the year!

FAQ

Which number is bad luck in Chinese?

In Chinese culture, the number 4 is bad luck. The sound of number 4 sounds similar to the word Death. Thus Chinese people don’t gift anything in multiple or sets of 4.

Conclusion

There are so many Chinese taboos that they have been following for years. According to their traditions, good luck comes in even pairs, but they have been avoiding the number 4 as it sounds like death. They even have Hungry Ghost Festival, which is conducted on the seventh lunar month. People avoid marriages, going out of the house, and launching new products this month. Chinese Culture is the most dominant culture in East Asia. They are one of the most ancient civilizations present in the world. Their culture, language, literature, philosophy, and history makes them believe in their taboos strongly.

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1 thought on “Chinese New Year Taboos » 10 Things You Should Not Do”

  1. Interesting, as one can imagine them seeing their heads around the edge of their faces as we walk through a mountain. I guess you can see them coming up with a pattern of eyes and faces and think of them as a natural predator in the wild and then they will have to hunt for something else? That would be a game-changing game.

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