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5 Things You Should Not Do According to Chinese New Year Taboos and Superstitions

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai! A joyous and fruitful Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year) to you in 2023! Many Chinoys follow several Chinese New Year superstitions and taboos in order to start the new year off well. Want to learn more to ensure a fortunate year ahead? Here is a list of activities to avoid during the 2023 Chinese New Year:

1. Avoid washing and cutting your hair

On the day of the Chinese New Year, no hair should be washed. Hair (发, fa) in Mandarin shares the same character and sound as facai, which means “to grow affluent.” As a result, it is considered bad luck to “wipe one’s fortune away” at the start of the New Year.  To gain a new look and technically new “wealth” in the upcoming year, it is becoming more and more common to have a haircut or new hairdo before the Chinese New Year.

2. Don’t do house chores

Chinese people have a long history of putting in long hours each day of the year. They take one or more days off from work during Chinese New Year’s and avoid doing any chores. On the first day of the year, doing labor and chores is considered unlucky since it represents the year’s challenges. Additionally, there are more focused Chinese New Year superstitions around household tasks. Trash disposal and sweeping up dirt and dust are thought to sweep away and dump good fortune. 

3. Don’t wash clothes

Similarly, the first and second days of the new year are observed as the water god’s birthday, hence it’s recommended that nobody washes their clothing on those days. Washing garments are said to be disrespectful to the water deity. Water was viewed by the ancients as a sign of abundance. The act of throwing out water after washing garments is thought to symbolize the throwing away of wealth.

4. Avoid breaking household dishes

Breaking represents incompleteness and misfortune. It is also said to portend bad luck, financial loss, or a rift in the family. When something is inadvertently shattered, people typically wrap the pieces in red paper and say “sui sui ping’an,” which roughly translates to “all year safe and sound.” Sui, which means “broken,” and sui, which means “year,” have the same pronunciation in Mandarin.

5. Don’t eat congee and meat for breakfast

Congee should not be consumed since it is believed that only the impoverished eat it for breakfast. Additionally, many people believe that being poor at the beginning of the year is unlucky. Moreover, since all gods are anticipated to be out socializing and wishing each other a happy New Year, meat should not be consumed at breakfast out of respect for the (Buddhist) gods, who are thought to be opposed to killing animals.

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