Image courtesy of Staffan Scherz/FlickrCC Credits: Image courtesy of Staffan Scherz/FlickrCC
1. Bring on the fireworks
No Lunar New Year celebration is complete without fireworks! This tradition comes from the myth of Nian—a half-lion beast that comes out during the new year and attacks children. But Nian is afraid of loud noises, so setting off fireworks keeps the monster at bay.
2. Wear red
The other way to scare off Nian is to wear red--as legend has it, villagers put red banners and scrolls in their windows to scare Nian away. In keeping with tradition, families still decorate their homes with red banners and scrolls. Some families even go as far as to paint their doors and window frames red to ward off Nian.
Interesting fact: Red not only symbolizes protection, but it's also the luckiest colour in Chinese culture. During the new year you'll want to wear red to ward off bad luck and bring prosperity to you and your family. If you're a child or unmarried, you'll receive red envelopes full of money—it pays to be single.
3. No cleaning
Before the celebrations begin, you need to give your house a good dusting to get rid of bad luck and make space for good luck. But once the clock strikes midnight and Lunar New Year begins, you must put your broom away so you don't sweep your good luck out the front door. This gives you the perfect excuse to sit back and relax.
4. Open your windows
This superstition is a bit tricky during Canadian winters. But to revitalize your home for the new year, you need to open your windows to let the fresh air in. You're definitely going to want to bundle up in warm sweaters and blankets so you can enjoy the good luck breeze without catching a cold.
5. Don’t wash your hair
You'll want to invest in a quality dry shampoo because you can't wash your hair for the first three days of the new year. Your hair symbolizes wealth, so if you wash it or cut it, you're rinsing off all your wealth. And you certainly don't want to do that!
6. Give mandarin oranges
All good things come in pairs, especially during Lunar New Year. It's common to give friends and family members two Mandarin oranges as a sign of good luck.
7. Don’t buy books
Many bookstores are closed during the new years celebrations because books are considered a bad omen for the year ahead. In Cantonese, the word "book" is a homonym for "lose." Since you don’t want to experience any loss during the year, save your reading for after the new year.
8. Replace dead houseplants
Don't bring last year's bad luck with you into the new year. Throw out your dead houseplants and replace them with new plants.
9. Death and bad omens
Death is seen as a bad omen during the new year so there are a few things you want to avoid. No telling ghost stories or mentioning zombies because it sets an unlucky precedent for the year ahead. You also shouldn't wear black or white—the colours of mourning. And don't give someone a watch or clock because it's a sign of time running out.
10. Eat only half your fish dinner
Traditionally, the first day of the new year is celebrated with a delicious fish dinner. But you want to make sure you make a little extra fish. The Cantonese and Mandarin word for "fish" is very similar to the word for "plenty," so to ensure a year of abundance, you leave half the fish on your plate and eat it the next day.
Want to know what to expect for the year ahead? Find out what your Chinese zodiac sign means.