Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese. Around Chinese New Year is also the time of the largest human migration, when migrant workers in China, as well as overseas Chinese around the world travel home to have reunion dinners with their families on Chinese New Year's eve. More interurban trips are taken in mainland China in this 40-day period than the total population of China.
The Chinese Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits". New clothing are usually worn to signify a new year. The color red is liberally used in all decorations. Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders.
First day of the new year
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time where families will pay a visit to their oldest and most senior member of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.
Some families may invite a Lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises.
Second day of the new year
The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents. Traditionally, daughters who have been married may not have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.
Third day and fourth of the new year
The third day of Chinese New Year is generally accepted as an inappropriate day to visit relatives due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.
1) It is known as "chì kǒu", meaning that it is easy to get into arguments. It is suggested that the cause could be the fried food and visiting during the first two days of the New Year celebration.
2) Families who had an immediate kin deceased in the past 3 years will not go house-visiting as a form of respect to the dead. The third day of the New Year is allocated to grave-visiting instead. Some people conclude it is inauspicious to do any house visiting at all.
Fifth day of the new year
In northern China, people eat Jiǎo zi (dumplings) on the morning of Po Wu. This is also the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on this day, accompanied by firecrackers.
Seventh day of the new year
The seventh day, traditionally known as renri , the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older.
It is the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten. This is a custom primarily among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore. People get together to toss the colorful salad and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.
For many Chinese Buddhists, this is another day to avoid meat.
Ninth day of the new year
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven in the Taoist Pantheon.
This day is especially important to Hokkiens. Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, the Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Tea is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honoured person.
Fifteenth day of the new year
The fifteenth day of the new year is the last day of the traditional New Year's celebrations. It is celebrated as Yuánxiāo jié, the Chinese Valentine's. otherwise known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian dialect. Tangyuan (Simplified Chinese; Traditional Chinese: pinyin: tāngyuán), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. Depending on locality, the same day may also be celebrated as the Lantern Festival, or as the Chinese Valentine's Day.
1. Opening windows and/or doors is considered to 'bring in' the good luck of the new year.
2. Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
3. Candy is eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
4. It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New
Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, as explained below, cleaning
the house after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
5. Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the
year to come. Asians will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get
luck and prosperity.
Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to
step on the people who gossip about you.
1. Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese.
2. Buying a pair of pants is considered bad luck. The word "pants" is a homophone for the word for "bitter" in Cantonese. (Although some perceive it to be positive, as the word 'pants' in Cantonese is also a homophone for the word for "wealth".)
3. A hair-cut is considered bad luck. The word "hair" is a homophone for the word for "prosperity". Thus "cutting hair" could be perceived as "cutting away your prosperity" in Cantonese.
1. Washing of your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although mostly hygenic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
2. Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year.
3. Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious as well.
Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose".