Do's and Don'ts When Visiting Others During Chinese New Year
ARE YOU BEING INVITED TO CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR WITH A CHINESE FAMILY? WE KNOW CHINESE CULTURE AND TRADITION CAN BE BROAD AND PROFOUND. HERE ARE SOME IMPORTANT FACTS TO UNDERSTAND THE DO'S AND DON'TS OF CELEBRATING THIS FESTIVAL.
Chinese New Year is one of the most important festivals among Chinese. It brings upon reunion with faraway families to welcome a new year together. As profound as Chinese tradition and culture can be, it is wise to know more about how this festival is celebrated and what should be avoided before visiting a Chinese family during Chinese New Year.
Red clothes are recommended
Perhaps many have known that Chinese New Year is all about red. But why? According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called Nian. It would eat up villagers, especially children. For many years, poor villagers lived in fear and only wished for the first day of new year to pass as soon as possible. Then, a God visited the village and told the villagers to scare away the beast by putting red paper on their doors and placing firecrackers. The villagers soon learnt that the beast was afraid of red colour. Now, red is seen as an auspicious colour, representing happiness, prosperity, warmth, virtue, truth and sincerity. Hence, wearing red during Chinese New Year will never go wrong.
Cleaning before the first day of Chinese New Year
Chinese families will typically clean their houses thoroughly two days before Chinese New Year. This is believed to sweep away the bad luck of the preceding year. Cleaning on the first day is prohibited as that will sweep away the newly arrived good luck. Therefore, when you're visiting someone for Chinese New Year, be sure to not sweep anything in the house.
Prepare red packets on Chinese New Year's Eve
On New Year's Eve, senior family members would give red packets which contain money to children as a symbol of suppressing the evil spirits. Red packets are usually something young children will look forward to, so if you are celebrating Chinese New Year with a Chinese family, it is always good to prepare some red packets in advance. Children will be happy if you give them red packets because these represent your good wishes to them. Besides, sometimes the children and teenagers may jokingly use the phrase “Gong xi fa cai, hong bao na lai”, roughly translated as “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red packet”. In this scenario, if you have prepared in advance, it can save you from embarrassment.
Select gifts carefully
In addition to red packets, you may want to bring along some gifts when visiting family and friends. Some items are considered auspicious, such as mandarin oranges, cakes, cookies and sweets.
Beware, though. Some items should not be given as gifts because these items are considered taboo and may even bring about bad luck! Items associated with funerals, such as chrysanthemums and towels, sharp objects that symbolise cutting a tie, such as scissors and knives; homophones for unpleasant topics, for example, “clock” sounds like “funeral ritual” are all bad gift ideas. If you do not want your good will to turn sour, selecting gifts carefully is wise.
Taboos during a meal
Chinese families are enthusiastic hosts. When you visit a Chinese family on this special day, very likely you'll be invited to join them in a meal. On a dining table, it is considered rude to mention anything related to death, disease and failure. Instead, it is never wrong to say propitious words such as “Happy new year”, “Congratulations and be prosperous” and “May all your wishes be fulfilled”. Another matter to highlight is to avoid breaking any dishes and dropping chopsticks as breaking objects during new year is considered inauspicious.
Living in the melting pot of Malaysia is a blissful thing. We learn to respect everyone's culture and tradition. This is the beauty of being a Malaysian. Happy Chinese New Year's Eve. Let's look forward to a fruitful and successful year ahead.