It’s ‘doggo’ year! Despite our dismay at the gradual decay of Chinese New Year vibes, what has stayed a tradition will always stay that way when it comes to CNY taboos and superstition.
For those who don’t celebrate CNY and have no idea how it’s like – you’re in for a treat (this may give you the ultimate shook factor). As for those who do, try recalling how many of these taboos you’ve broken that might’ve triggered some elders during the annual Lunar New Year:
1. Hair must not be washed
Don’t let your luck go to dust in trade for silky and nice-smelling hair during CNY, especially for the first two days. These two important days are a celebration of the Water God’s birthday, so choosing to wash your hair will offend the Mighty One. Why hair? You may ask. In Mandarin, hair (fa) has the same pronunciation as wealth (fa cai). Thus, your hair is a representation of opulence and prosperity.
Punishment: Your fortune will be “washed away” as you wash the oils off your hair at the start of the Chinese year.
2. Get sharp things out of the way
Snip snip no more, buddy (at least for the first lunar month). You should also stay away from making those beautiful CNY cut-out art using angpow packets during the festival season, so prep your house in DIY red packet art before CNY. Scissors used during this time is an omen of personal conflict – whether it’s about relationships or money. If you want peace, you ought to think twice before swiping out that sharp thingy.
The curse: Your ties will be “cut off” if you take the scissors out. Or, your scissors might also “cut” your wealth.
3. Leave the dirty untouched
During CNY, dust, dirt, and trash is symbolic of good fortune, luck, and wealth – a direct contrast of each other. Similarly, houses cannot be swept and garbage must not be taken out. You wouldn’t want to be sweeping all your good luck away so you gotta keep the dirty stuff around (this ironic philosophy applies here). The rule here is simple: brooms must be put away, trash must not be thrown out.
What will happen: Say bye to your good fortune, luck, and wealth if you ever try to clean ya crib.
4. No bad words ah!
Cussing at your sibling this time around with your usual “hei sei la lei” (go and die lah you), means it’ll be for real. The auspicious festival takes what you say seriously as death, so you might wanna watch out for the words that are collected at the tip of your tongue. If you really have to, it’ll be safer to try out euphemisms for any word that has a negative connotation; even for words like ghost, killing, losing, pain and breaking, which our depressed/poetic souls are already accustomed to.
How you’ll be damned: It’s deadly serious to talk about death.
5. Eating porridge is prohibited
Known universally as a form of comfort food, congee is surprisingly an omen during CNY. Known as food for the poor, the Chinese believe that it’s best to stay away from eating porridge on the first day. So no matter how sick you happen to be this time around, try opting for other comfort food aside from porridge.
Sinners gonna sin: Eating porridge is the harbinger of poverty.
6. Crying can’t do
The crack of the year is always seen as a merry and joyful event, just like every other festival. With smiles and red packets, parents must make sure their juniors aren’t overwhelmed with sorrow no matter how much it takes (be it a 30 minute session of Cut The Rope, or some crispy snacks). Even when kids are naughty, parents aren’t allowed scold them! All them sneaky children must be cheekily smiling after hearing this.
The comeback: The family will suffer from misfortune after a young one cries.
7. Do not wake up the ones who are asleep
Good news to all the lazy asses out there: If you’re the kind to sleep in until afternoon, perhaps it’s the best time of the year to work your nirvana ways. Come this Spring Festival, those who are still in bed on the first day are not to be woken up; there will be consequences if that happens.
The aftermath: Those who are told to wake up on CNY morning will constantly be on-edge. They will also have to work their butts off all year round, so be nice and just let them sleep.
8. Married daughter must not come home
A woman who is married and has been staying with her boo is not allowed to visit her parents’ home on the first day of CNY. This is because after a daughter has wed and left home, she will be seen as an ‘outsider’ by her parents. It’s tradition that the daughter only visits her parents on the second day.
Why to avoid this: You don’t wanna be that kinda gal to bring bad luck and hardship to your elders who’ve brought you up with unconditional love.
9. No shopping for shoes
Say goodbye to sneaker #goals, since you ain’t getting none of that Nike Air Force, Adidas NMD, and Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. In Cantonese, shoes (hai) has the same pronunciation as the word rough (hai). Basically, shoes are emblematic of roughness. Ain’t nobody wants a rough year, so take extra care to not accidentally fall for those sick kicks.
Get yourself sorted: You can test the waters if you want, but don’t blame me when bad luck afflicts you.
10. Strut only in nice clothes
Although shoe shopping is prohibited, clothes must not be torn or spoilt. In most cases, you’d be frowned upon if you wore “damaged” clothes, but in this particular context, the worst will actually happen. In the scheme of Chinese taboos, I reckon some luck is necessary. Not too sure about those trendy ripped jeans, but we wouldn’t take the risk.
What you can do: For a glo’ up, try to get some decent clothes if you don’t want misfortune.
Thoughts on these CNY taboos? Let us know if you have more.