Ten Top Chinese Lunar New Year Customs That Will Change Your Luck
January 25, 2020 a new 12 year cycle begins with the Year of the Gold Rat. Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese lunar new year is celebrated worldwide. Westerners have gotten on board too and with good reason, it’s evident Asian neighbors enjoy year-long good luck and good fortune that pave the way for opportunities and success. And when two billion people pool their good will and good intentions into a fortnight of celebrating, the sheer numbers guarantee something good is going to happen.
Here’s a little language lesson why this works. Chinese cosmology and humanity are intricately linked through the rich symbolism of Chinese characters and phonetic sounds. In the west we focus on the achievement of the individual which is believed leads to success. But in Asian cultures the individual’s success is due to the meaning of Yuan which represents “family unity”. Chinese lunar new year is celebrated at the first new moon of spring. Both the meaning of the new moon and the spring season symbolize a fresh start, a new beginning and the promise for something better. Yuan also means roundness which is represented by the food dishes like fish balls and oranges that are served at the new year’s eve reunion dinner. The joining of family creates closeness, a web of support and continuity for future generations. Yuan also suggests the attainment of the Five Fold Happiness, luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth, which are the five most sought after values in Chinese culture. Replicated in lucky phrases, decorative arts, and motifs, these displays ensure the timeless wishes for harmony and goodwill among all.
“Wan Shi Ru Yi” is an auspicious greeting that translates into “May everything go as you wish.” Here are my ten top Chinese lunar new year customs to help you acquire everything you wish in 2020.
Go big with red
The Chinese zodiac is part of the heavenly cycle that tells time and it plays a large part in Chinese customs to celebrate the new year. Every year one of twelve animals is honored and its characteristics influence the energy of the year. In folkloric tradition the sequence was determined by a race with the lucky rat coming in first. When the year god is your zodiac animal it is called your ben ming nian. You might assume it’s your lucky year however traditional Chinese belief states that when you meet your zodiac year it can be full of inauspicious events and not so good luck. If you are a Rat in 2020 this year is your ben ming nian so take precautions to minimize the bad luck and emphasize the good. Horse and Ram will benefit from this advice too.
To stave off threat in your ben ming nian, it‘s traditionally believed to wear the color red everyday. Red is the luckiest color in Feng Shui. It stands for power, protection, good luck, success and happiness. Add red accessories to every outfit or simply wear a red bracelet made of red interwoven Chinese knots to repel bad luck. But if red is not a favorite color, protect yourself with red underwear. You will find plenty in Chinatown or on the internet. Stock up or ask your sweetheart to gift you with some sets. On a side note, if you are going for an important interview wear bright, bold red.
Display auspicious fruit
Filled with intriguing homonyms the Chinese language is a good romp with words during the new year. The word for tangerine is symbolic of good luck. In Asian homes tangerine trees are displayed at the front door. Orange chengzi sounds like gold jin and represents wealth. Placing a bowl of nine oranges on your dining room table will incubate money ch’i. Look no further than a Chinese market for a pomelo. Sire to the hybrid grapefruit and larger, the pomelo has a sweet, citrus aroma. It is very lucky to display one as it means “to have.” Pineapple sounds like wealth but its real strength lies in that it attracts excellent fortune. You can display these fruits at the front entry, the dining room or the kitchen.
Bloom good luck
Flowers are a direct path to enhancing your feelings and elevating your sense of well-being. When daffodil and Narcissus bulbs are in bloom during the new year, the Chinese believe good fortune and luck will visit your entire family and home. Placing them where they are visible in your home calms the nervous system. This can carry over to your work place creating a frame of mind for happiness and enthusiasm.
Avoid cutting the luck of the year
On the last day of the old year, prepare your food for the next two days so that all sharp instruments such as knives and scissors are placed in your kitchen drawer to avoid cutting the “luck” of the new year. This keeps the kitchen from being disturbed the first day of the year.
Eliminate the trip to the barber
Schedule your hair to be trimmed two days after new year’s day. And don’t forget to slip a mani/pedi into your calendar well before the fireworks begin.
Gather family and friends for a new year’s dinner
Given the importance of food in Chinese culture, it’s not surprising that food plays a major role in Chinese new year celebrations. Prepare a “lucky eight” foods dinner. Plan the evening to be uplifting and happy. Include music and play games with your children, tell jokes and laugh. Pepper your conversations with auspicious words. Include dishes that have a symbolic meaning for fortune, happiness, longevity and prosperity. Here are some likely food choices to include in your menu. Noodles represent a long life. Spring rolls are similar to gold bars. Lettuce sounds like rising fortune. Fish, Yu, sounds like the words both for wish and surplus. Shrimp sounds like laughter. Clams symbolize wealth. And sticky rice cakes’ sweetness symbolizes a rich, sweet life, rising abundance for the coming year and family reunion.
Go sleepless new year’s eve
Prepare yourself a fresh cup of lapsing soughing tea because you’ll want to stay awake for this one. The Chinese stay up until 12:01 a.m. for the sound of sleepiness in Chinese is similar to trouble. Sleepless means no trouble for the coming year.
Refresh your home
Increase your prosperity ch’i and sheng ch’i (uplifting Feng Shui energy beneficial to your health and well-being) by purchasing one new item such as furniture, décor or art for your home and business. In addition give away one or more items. This creates both physical and symbolic space for new growth.
Carry the Gold Rat’s secret friend
Protect yourself from unwanted misfortune when you carry a three dimensional Ox made of bone, boxwood or jade. Ox is Rat’s secret friend where “the joy of this encounter will offset any disaster.” If your Chinese Zodiac animal is a Horse or Ram, carry the Monkey and the Dragon together.
Hand out hong bao, lucky red envelopes
The custom arose that children were easily susceptible to harm during the changing of the year and that money would protect them from evil spirits. This lucky money also served to bring good fortune for the coming year. At the new year coins or notes are placed in red envelopes. Children and unmarried adults receive the red packets from elders and married friends. The red envelopes represent the wish for good health, good fortune, peace and safety for the coming year.
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