A rambling ball of madness…
Happy Chinese New Year!
Growing up in a old school traditional family, there were a lot of superstitions that I followed. As a kid, I’ve never questioned it and just followed it – some even to this day.
Here are some of chinese superstitions that we followed, some that I think my mom tweaked or made up, or a variation from what you hear from other chinese… but just a warning – they don’t make sense!
Don’t clean during chinese new year – to the chinese, cleaning means sweeping, and when you sweep, it means you’re sweeping good luck or wealth out the door.
Don’t wash your hair on new year’s day – hair is the homonym for ‘fortune’ (which is the ‘Fat’ in Gong Hay Fay Choy), so washing your hair is washing your fortune down the drain.
Turn your Fook upside down – This sounds like a bad phase, but Fook is 福 which is Fortune. Many families have a calendar or a poster with the Fortune character on the wall. My mom turns it upside down because upside down is the homonym for ‘to come’. So turn your fook upside down and your fook will come. Be fooked!
Don’t work on new year’s day – My mom usually asks me to take the day off because what you do on new year’s day pretty much paves your road for the rest of the year. If you work on new year’s day, it means that the rest of the year you’ll have a hard life. I try to take the time off when I can but when I couldn’t take the day off, I justify to my mom that going to work means that I’ll be employed with a pay cheque for the rest of the year.
Wear red – it means good luck. Avoid black and blue as those are colours of death.
Don’t talk about ghosts, death, zombies or anything related to the dead on new year’s day – it’s unlucky. My mom doesn’t know what blogging is so this doesn’t count.
When you give out red pockets, give in pairs – married couples give out red pockets, so they should go in pairs – one from you and the other from your spouse. If you give one out, it’s like cursing yourself that you’ll be single (maybe it’s not a bad thing for some) that year. This kind of sucks because in Canada, the smallest bills are $5 so that means it’s a minimum of $15 that we give out (coins are not preferred as coins are usually given out at funerals). Since we give out 2 envelopes, the one that represents the husband is usually more, like the next bill up. We give more money for relatives and friends, but sometimes when you bump into a friend who has a child around new year’s, it courtesy to give red pockets to the children. I avoid playdates with acquaintances around this time.
Avoid giving out books, shoes and clocks – This is all homonyms for bad things: books means ‘lose’ (in a chinese context, it means lose wealth); shoes means ‘rough/not smoothly’ (like in life or anything that you do); clock means ‘funeral’ (if you want to offended or unfriend a traditional chinese, give them a clock and you’ll never hear from them again).
You eat the red pockets you receive – I don’t actually chew on the bills but I spend it on food so that “the lucky is in me” (love saying that). Recycled luck, I suppose.
I’ll leave it as just 9 superstitions, since 9 is the homonym for eternal. Let’s hope that I’ll get mega rich this year!
As you can see, the Chinese loves their Fortune, yet with so many superstitions, it’s hard to keep your fortune when there are so many ways to wash/sweep it away! Meet an even more traditional Chinese and they will say you can’t pee on CNY because you will pee out your wealth. These are just for chinese new year too, there are just as many when I was pregnant…!