Malaysia is rich in a diverse culture that we’re very fortunate – right after Christmas and New Year celebrations, comes the Lunar New Year celebration. Spring cleaning, shopping, and red packets are on the must-do list. Since, it’s the beginning of the Spring Festival which is also the start of a new year, whatever that you do then is believed to affect your luck in the coming year.
While some families today don’t follow the Chinese New Year traditions and practices of their elders, it is still good for us to be mindful of our manners during the celebrations, so that we won’t accidentally offend an elder or friend. Some traditions are built around moral etiquette, while others have a more superstitious basis. Do you follow any of these do’s and don’ts?
1. The colour red
Sure, a nice little black dress can be slimming, but put that dress aside and focus on red or bright colours for this special occasion. Everyone, including children and babies, should be dressed in new clothes to celebrate the new year, and in bright colours. Red of course is the favourite colour of choice as it is the auspicious colour that symbolizes luck and prosperity.
2. No hair wash/haircut
Washing your hair at the beginning of the new year is believed to be washing one’s fortune away. Getting a haircut during the first lunar month is also a bad idea, as it indicates the death of their uncle (mother’s brother). However, you can wash or get a new hairstyle before Chinese New Year for a new look.
3. No cleaning / sweeping the floor
On this auspicious day, sweeping the floor is associated with sweeping the wealth away or sweeping the good luck out of your house. You may want to sweep the floor days before or on New Year’s eve.
4. Eating porridge is a no, no
It is believed that if you eat porridge on the first day of the new year, you will start the year poor as this is a bad omen. This is because it is considered that only poor people will have porridge for breakfast.
5. Choice of words
Remind your children not to quarrel during Chinese New Year and to avoid topics like ghosts and death in their conversations. Other words that are a strict no-no are the number four (which sounds like the word for “death” in the Chinese) and any kind of vulgar language.
6. No sharp objects
Usage of knives, scissors and blades are believed to be bad luck as it cut away your good luck and fortune. The scissors are also associated with sharp lips when people quarrel. Apparently, it is a call for quarrels with others in the coming year. So, do avoid it!
7. No crying
For this entire festive season, joy should fill your home and not sadness accompanied by tears. So control your emotions as it will bring bad luck for the coming year. Parents must control their children from crying during these 15 days too. So, no crying!
8. Rise Early
On the first day of Chinese New Year, children are encouraged to wake up early in the morning to greet their parents or family members and wish them a happy and healthy New Year. In return, they will receive a red packet that symbolises blessing from their parents.
9. Manners please!
Remind your children to greet everyone they meet by saying “恭喜发财（Gong Xi Fa Cai), which means “Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year”. It is considered a way of putting all grudges aside and offering sincere peace and well wishes to everyone. Also remind the kids to say their Thank You’s and to not open their ang bao in front of the giver.
10. Orange Galore
Bringing along mandarin oranges while visiting during the Chinese New Year is a custom during this period. The fruit in mandarin is ‘橘’ (Jú), which sounds like ‘吉’(Jí), meaning ‘auspicious’. Upon entering a house, each family member (including children) should present at least two mandarin oranges to the heads of the household, and offer the customary New Year greetings as well.