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Chinese New Year Superstitions – A List

Among every other festival in China, the Chinese New Year is the most significant traditional festival. Most Chinese people believe in superstitions, and so they follow them religiously. It’s believed that if they don’t follow these, they might attract bad luck the following year.

While some of the superstitions are only applicable for the first few days during the festival, others might go until the 15th of the first lunar month, which is the Lantern Festival, or even for an entire month.

Let’s take a look at some of the most intriguing Chinese New Year superstitions.

Chinese New Year superstitions

Don’t Use Negative Words

Negative words such as sick, death, empty, poor, pain, kill, ghost, and more are forbidden during this celebratory time. The reason is to avoid attracting these misfortunes into your life when you are starting a new year.

Don’t Break Glass or Ceramics

It’s believed that breaking things will break your chance to get fortune and prosperity. If you drop a plate, you must use red paper to cover it while saying auspicious phrases. Some people murmur 岁岁平安 (suì suì píng ān). This translates to asking for security and peace every year. Once you’ve celebrated the New Year, you can throw the broken pieces into a river or lake.

Don’t Sweep or Clean

Chinese new year superstitions

The day of cleaning is prior to the Spring Festival. This means sweeping away all the bad luck in your life. But this shouldn’t be done during the festival. If you throw out trash or clean during the festival, you also throw away your luck.

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However, if you still want to sweep and clean, you can start from the room’s outer edge and clean it inwards. Collect the dirt and get rid of it after you’ve completed the 5th day of the celebrations.

Don’t Use Sharp Objects

There are two reasons for this superstition. Back in the day, it was to give women a break from chores and work. Without being able to use knives or scissors, women were able to take a break from cooking and other household chores.

However, the superstitious reason attributed to this practice is that it is to avoid cutting chances of accumulating success and wealth. This is why you see most hair salons closed during this time, and it’s forbidden to cut hair until the 2nd of February.

Don’t Request Debt Payment

The reason behind this is to be understanding of others. You don’t make things hard for others to celebrate New Year by demanding repayment.

This allows both parties to enjoy their celebrations. Just like demanding repayment, borrowing money is also bad luck, and it’s believed that you end up asking for money the whole year. So, wait until the 5th day to deal with this. 

Don’t Cry or Fight

You should try your best not to cry or argue during this time. You don’t have to reprimand if babies cry. It’s important to solve every issue peacefully. It was customary for neighbors to play peacemaker so that problems won’t blow up. This is to start a serene new year.

Don’t Take Medicine

medicine Chinese new year

If you don’t want to be sick the whole year, don’t take medicines before the Spring Festival ends. But if it’s an emergency, you should always prioritize your health. Again, the idea is that what you give your attention to during the new year is what you will have to focus on throughout the rest of the year.

Don’t Offer New Year Blessings to Someone Who’s Bedridden

Everyone should offer New Year blessings (拜年 / bài nián) to each other. However, you shouldn’t wish someone bedridden because they’ll continue to be sick throughout the year if you do so. It’s also not recommended to wake someone up from sleep. This is because they wouldn’t want to be bossed around or rushed during the year.

Don’t Tell/Listen to Horror Stories

We agree it’s fun to listen to or tell horror stories when everyone’s gathered for the new year. But don’t do it if you want to make your new year prosperous and happy. It’s believed that telling or listening to horror stories will ruin your year.

As for Chinese superstitions, even the word “death” can cause enough trouble for the year. It’s also advised not to watch horror movies or shows on the first two days of the new year.

Wear The Right Colors

If you’re planning to wear black and white dresses, please don’t! As you would already know, the Chinese New Year is all bright and colorful, which is why bright and hot colors are used in it. They believe these colors indicate prosperity and good luck.

So, it’s best if you could wear red on the Chines New Year. You can also try other bright colors but avoid black and white, representing death and mourning.

Open Doors and Windows

Letting in fresh air is important if you want to make your New Year’s Eve fresh and happy. As per the Chinese tradition opening the doors and windows during New Year’s night will bring good spirits and positive energy into your house. Chinese people open their doors and windows before the clock chimes at 12.

Don’t Use Odd Numbers 

No odd numbers

As per Chinese superstitions, odd numbers are bad luck, so using them during the new year will bring bad luck. Even if you give money as a gift to someone in the new year, the amount should be in even numbers, as this is considered lucky.

Avoid Eating Meat and Porridge

It’s assumed that people who aren’t well-off eat porridge as their breakfast, so if you follow the same routine, you might attract such for your new year. It’s best to eat something that is healthy but also not associated with poverty or lack.

Also, it’s believed that all gods visit you on New Year’s morning, so you must not eat meat for breakfast to show respect. But it’s also because people want to avoid killing anything during this time of peace and to start the new year by making healthy food choices.

Married Women Shouldn’t Visit Their Parents 

A married woman shouldn’t visit her parents because she could bring bad luck. She can visit her parents on the second day as per the traditions.

Don’t Wash Clothes

You shouldn’t wash clothes in the first two days of the new year. This is because the Water God was born during these two days. If you wash clothes these days, it’ll offend the god. So, wait for a couple of days to do your laundry. 

Don’t Leave Your Rice Jars Empty

Chinese people believe that rice jars show a person’s standard of living. This is why it’s important not to leave them empty. If the rice jars are empty, it indicates that starvation awaits in the future. So, you should fill the rice jars prior to the new year to attract better financial health.

Don’t Nap in The Afternoon

If you nap in the afternoon during the Spring Festival, you’ll become lazy the whole year. This indicates that you will not get things done and your year will be unproductive. Also, it’s not polite to sleep when you have visitors over.

Enjoy Setting Off Firecrackers

firecrackers Chinese new year

Lighting firecrackers is considered good luck, because it not only lights up the whole sky but also spreads colors and loud sounds to eliminate evil spirits. It announces the start of a productive, safe, and prosperous new year. Because red is the color of luck, even the firecrackers typically come in red.

Don’t Forget the Rules About Gifts

Chinese people believe in bringing gifts when you visit others. But there are exceptions for what you are gifting. You should never gift clocks because it stands for paying the last respects to someone, while a fruit like the pear stand for separation. If giving flowers, ensure that you choose auspicious flowers with good meaning.

Enjoy Sweet Snacks

If you have a sweet tooth, this must be your favorite superstition of all. It’s exciting to know that people worldwide enjoy Chinese New Year snacks. As for Chinese superstitions, it’s good to offer sweet snacks during the new year. 

Wrapping Up

These superstitions were formed thousands of years back based on the wishes, worries, beliefs, and cultures of the time. Today, these have become a part of tradition, and people tend to follow them without much question.

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Dani Rhys
Dani Rhys

Dani Rhys has worked as a writer and editor for over 15 years. She holds a Masters degree in Linguistics and Education, and has also studied Political Science, Ancient History and Literature. She has a wide range of interests ranging from ancient cultures and mythology to Harry Potter and gardening. She works as the chief editor of Symbol Sage but also takes the time to write on topics that interest her.