Traditional Chinese Customs to Celebrate CNY

Chinese New Year is coming soon! How to spend the most important holiday in China? We believe that you are interested in the traditional Chinese customs during this time, let’s take a look at the traditions, etiquette and taboos that make this celebration so special.

Spring festival couplets

At the beginning of the New Year, the first thing is to paste couplets. The couplets have the same origin as New Year pictures, both of them are prepared to ward off evil spirits. In the ancient time, the couplets are written on peach wood and pasted on both sides of the gate. Nowadays, couplets are written by gold or black brush on red paper to express people’s longing for the new year. Those who have a talent of writing Chinese calligraphy will write the couplets by themselves and send them to relatives and friends as a gift to express their blessings.

Wearing new clothes

As to welcome the new year, everyone will put on new clothes as a symbol for a new start. Many people will wear in red as a wish of good luck. The living standards of modern society have been improved so that we can buy clothes at any time as we want, while before the reform and opening up, the New Year was the only opportunity for many people to wear new clothes a year.

House cleaning

House cleaning means cleaning the house in the year-end, which is also one of the traditional customs. On the 24th day of the lunar calendar, every family will clean their house. They hope to sweep all the bad luck on the last year away in this way, and prepare to welcome the good luck on the coming year. While this is not a easy work, so every member in this family will contribute their forces.

Family reunion dinner

During the CNY, the most important thing is a reunion dinner for the whole family. Don’t forget our table manners while enjoy the delicious food!
At the dinner table, you should start toasting from the elders with the highest seniority, and express your wishes to them with auspicious words.
When toasting to the elders, don’t forget to stand up and lower your glasses to show respect.

Staying up late on New Year’s Eve

After the reunion dinner, the whole family will stay up late and wait for the new year together. The young doing this for the hope of extending the life of their parents, and the elderly doing this for cherishing their past memories. Another tradition on the New Year’s Eve is to keep the lights open all night, which means to expel all the evil plagues with the light and looking forward to the good luck of the new year!

Setting off firecrackers

On the first day of the new year, every family will set off firecrackers first to welcome the coming of the new year, which has extended for 2000 years. The blasting sounds could create a happy atmosphere, and people would send their blessings to their friends and relatives at this happy time.

Red packets

Red packets also means lucky money. Giving a red packet is a way for the elders to express their blessings to their children. While receiving a red packet, it is advised to take it with both your hands and show your thanks with some auspicious words, and do not open it immediately in front of the person who gives you.
Nowadays, it is a way to express love and blessings for many young people to give red packets to the elderly at home! When sending red packets, the amount should be the auspicious even numbers and on line with your economic capability.

New year’s greetings

Starting from the first day of the new year, people will send their greetings to relatives and friends with gifts and auspicious words to express blessings for the new year. New Year’s greetings are also a great opportunity for relatives and friends to meet since everyone is busy at work in other times.

Gifting taboos

When choosing a New Year’s gift, pay special attention to sending good blessings, avoiding ominous implications. Especially notice the homophony of the gift, and it will be counterproductive if you send it wrong.
For example, “pear” (li) and “book” (shu) sound the same as “separate” (li) and “lose” (shu), which are not suitable as gifts for New Year. At the same time, when bringing the gift, be careful with the number, as it’s always more appropriate to offer a pair rather than just a single item.

No haircut during the Spring Festival

An old saying goes “cutting your hair on the 1st lunar month will bring curse to your uncle”. This tradition goes back to Qing dynasty, where Han people were required to shave their forehead and tie a braid in their back. Feeling nostalgic for their own culture, Han people keep the habit not to shave their hair during the first month of the new lunar year.

Avoid saying ominous words

During Spring Festival, everyone is praying for a good start, so it is not advised to say unlucky words such as “death”, “illness”, “bad luck” and “ghost”!

Chinese culture has a long history, the New Year customs are far more than those mentioned above, only this one article can not cover all. But thinking about these customs gives us something to look forward to in the coming New Year! Let’s look forward to a year full of joy and luck!

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