Lunar New Year is just around the corner, so the 626 Night Market team has decided to compile a list of do’s & don’ts to help guide everybody towards a fortunate and prosperous Year of the Horse. Most of these superstitions originate from Chinese culture, so we’d love to hear your thoughts on your own superstitions and traditions from your respective cultures. Out of the myriad of Lunar New Year superstitions, we’re sure to have missed a few; this is just a list of our favorites:
1. Wear red clothing because red symbolizes luck.
This one is especially important for all those born in the Year of the Horse (born in ’66, ’78, ’90, ’02—cheers to my fellow ’90s babies) because it’d be best to wave off any bad luck that may be coming in our unlucky year. Also, make sure not to wear white or black clothing, since those colors are traditionally associated with mourning.
2. Eat vegetarian food.
If only for the first day, abstaining from meat will bring in good luck for the year. A popular dish eaten on Chinese New Year is “Jai” or “Buddha’s Delight” - a dish with lotus seeds, dried bean curd, bamboo shoots, and more vegetarian ingredients. Many local buddhist temples in the area serve this vegetarian dish on New Years Day.
3. Turn luck (“fu”) upside down.
Turning the Chinese character for “luck” (福, fu) upside down makes “dao,” which sounds like the Chinese word for “arrival.” Placing the upside down “fu” on your door is symbolic of inviting good fortune into your home for the year.
4. Clean your home before New Year’s Day. Do not clean during the new year.
It is important to clean your house before New Year’s Day (we have until Thursday before midnight!) because it is believed that sweeping the floor or cleaning the house during the New Year is symbolic of sweeping your wealth and good fortune away.
5. Welcome good luck in the air.
Open your windows during Lunar New Year to invite the fresh breeze of good luck into your home. With a clean house and fresh air, you’ll feel revitalized to start the new year right!
6. Don’t wash your hair.
Try not to wash your hair for the first three days of the New Year—go ahead, we won’t judge. Because the Chinese word for “hair” is a homonym for the Chinese word for “wealth,” washing your hair is symbolic of washing away your wealth at the start of the New Year. This is unfortunate for anyone with an oily scalp… I wonder if dry shampoo counts? Or baby powder?
7. Don’t use knives or scissors.
Sharp objects are associated with bad luck, as their sharp points are believed to cut out your good luck and fortune. Thus, haircuts are not encouraged during Lunar New Year as well.
8. Don’t break anything.
Make sure to be extra careful during Lunar New Year so that you do not break anything. Breaking dishes infers that you may incur more misfortune for the New Year. Even when you’re eating fish, be careful not to break any of the bones! Speaking of fish…
9. Eat fish, but don’t eat it all. And don’t flip the fish.
One fish, two fish, three fish superstitions. Eating fish is a must for Lunar New Year. But because the Chinese word for “fish” (魚, yú) is similar to the word for “plenty” (餘, yú), you should leave some fish left on the table to ensure that you have symbolic abundance for the future. Finally, flipping the fish is bad luck in Chinese culture—whether it’s Lunar New Year or not.
10. Don’t buy books.
Because the Chinese word for “book” (書, shu) sounds like the Cantonese word for “losing” (輸, shu), it is discouraged to buy books during Lunar New Year. This explains why many bookstores remain closed during New Year.
11. Don’t buy shoes.
Another homonym superstition here. Because the Chinese word for “shoe” (hai) is similar to the Cantonese word for “rough” (hai) or the sound of sighing, buying new shoes is not believed to be a good way to start the year.
12. No singing at night or ghosts will come.
O.O Someone on our team mentioned this superstition; I haven’t heard of it before so it gave me a mini freak because I love to sing all the time! Well, better safe than sorry.
What did we miss? Let us know some of your favorite Lunar New Year superstitions in the comments!
Whether you believe in superstitions or not, we wish you all a Happy Lunar New Year! If you’re looking for things to do this New Year, here is a list of Lunar New Year events in the San Gabriel Valley. Wishing you all an amazing Year of the Horse!~