Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chinese New Year Superstitions

Being born in Canada to Asian parents means a lot of ignorance when it comes to proper traditions. I might have grown up with certain customs, but it is very different when I am now expected to practice these customs without any hints or clear instructions. I have thus been guilty on numerous occasions of making obvious mistakes, much to the chagrin of my parents. So, this year, I am looking it up on the Internet. Let's see what I have found:

Good luck things to do on Chinese New Year:
1. Open windows and doors to bring in the good luck of the New Year
2. Turn on lights at night to scare away ghosts and bad spirits that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
3. Have the house completely clean from top to bottom BEFORE New Year's Day
4. Eat sweets to have a sweet year.
5. Do something good that you want to have happen for the rest of the year. For instance, some Asians will gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
6. Wear a new pair of slippers that is bought BEFORE the new year. This has reference to being able to step on the people who gossip about you.
7. Bathe yourself in pomelo leaves the night before the new year so that you will be healthy for the rest of the year.

Bad things to do on Chinese New Year:
1. Don't buy new shoes at the beginning of the year. Always buy them beforehand. The word "shoes" sounds like the word "rough" in Cantonese and "evil" Mandarin.
2. Don't buy new pants at the beginning of the year. Buy them beforehand. The word "pants" sounds like the word "bitter" in Cantonese.
3. Don't wash your hair on new years. You will wash away all your good luck.
4. Don't sweep the floor on new years. You will sweep away all your good luck and good fortune.
5. Don't talk about death for the first few days of Chinese New Year. It is bad luck.
6. Don't buy books. The word "book" in Cantonese sounds the same as the word for "lose".
7. Don't wear black and white. Black is bad luck and white is the colour worn at funerals.

My parents have also told me that, if you are visiting family or if you are a potential suitor, it is good to give gifts that are red or gold coloured, round, and/or lively. Some examples of this are oranges, red apples, red tins of round biscuits, fresh flowers, and live animals. Traditional sweets and foods are also exchanged at this time. I found mine at the local T&T Supermarket.

Honestly, it's always a hit and miss for me. It seems like there are clauses to every traditional practice so it is best to know as much as possible. It also seems that there are new traditions that I am supposed to know at each stage of my life. It can be very frustrating at times so I am trying to view it as positively as possible by seeing the fun side. I know for a fact that I really enjoyed Chinese New Year as a child.

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