Dos and Don'ts of Lunar New Year

As people across the globe prepare to mark the festival, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts for Lunar New Year, to ensure that the coming months will be filled with good fortune to avoid bad luck in the year ahead.

3 mins read

Dos of Lunar New Year

1. Wear red on both the outside and under your clothes! Red is a lucky colour which symbolises good luck and success.

2. Feast on lucky foods such as dumplings, rice cakes, fish, dates and mandarins.

3. Being associated with wealth and good fortune, red decorations are hung to ward off Nian (年), a lion-like monster that fears the colour red, so get decorating!

4. Mandarins (柑橘, gan-ju) sounds similar to the word “gold” and “luck” in Chinese, so it’s part of the tradition that people bring along mandarins while visiting family and hand them out as a sign of sharing good fortune.

5. Red envelopes (also known as lucky money) are prepared for children by the elderly and given on New Year’s Day as this represents luck and prosperity for the year.

6. Be happy and make sure your loved ones are happy. Smile and wish others a Happy Lunar New Year.

A person cooking dumplings.

Don'ts of Lunar New Year

1. Avoid cutting or washing your hair on the first day of the New Year. The Chinese character for hair (发, fa) is the same word in ‘prosper’. This means washing or cutting it off is seen as washing your good fortune away and dramatically reduces chances of prosperity in the year ahead.

2. The Chinese word for “book” (书, shū) sounds the same as the word for “lose”, so buying a book right after ringing in the New Year is considered an invitation for bad luck.

3. Don’t clean! Sweeping on New Year’s Day is associated with sweeping wealth away. Taking out garbage symbolises dumping good luck and fortune from your home.

4. Don’t wash your clothes on the first and second day of the New Year, as these two days are celebrated as the birthday of the God of Water, and washing clothes is regarded as disrespectful. It is believed that pouring away water after washing clothes invokes pouring your wealth away.

5. Using knives and scissors on the first day of the Lunar New Year symbolises cutting away your wealth, so prepare your meals the day before to avoid this.

6. It’s considered important to pay off all debts before the first day of the Lunar New Year. In addition, avoid borrowing or lending money during the 15 days of celebration, as doing either is believed to lead to struggles with money in the year ahead.

A woman sweeps the floor with a broom.