Do’s

– Greet others with “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which means “Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth”.

– Give two angpows to each child. Because happiness comes in two’s, do not just give one. This is your way of passing good luck to the next generation. Business owners also give angpows to employees and associates. These angpows with crisp dollar bills inserted are for good fortune.

– Wear brand new clothes – preferably in red. Children should wear new clothes and new shoes. Red is considered a bright, happy color, sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future. It is believed that appearance and attitude during New Year’s sets the tone for the rest of the year.

– Shooting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year

– On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year to go out.

– The first person one meets and the first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would be for the entire year. It is a lucky sign to see or hear songbirds or red-colored birds or swallows.

Don’ts

– Don’t wash your hair because it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New Year.

– Don’t sweep the floor. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year’s Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.

– Don’t greet people who are in mourning.

– Don’t drop your chopsticks.

– Don’t say the number ‘four’ (Chinese homonym for death) or mention death.

– Avoid inauspicious words and topics like diseases and ghosts.

– Don’t borrow or lend money. All debts had to paid by this time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does so will be lending all the year.

– Cooking from the first day to the fifth day of the New Year is discouraged, as it is considered inauspicious to touch knives and scissors. As the sharp edges of knives or scissors signify cutting off fortune.

– Avoid getting a haircut during the first month of the New Year.

– References to the past year are also avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.

– If you cry on New Year’s day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.

– It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.

These traditions and customs are kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions, whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past and provide the family with an identity.