Home China Do You Break These Taboos on Chinese New Year's Eve? Uh-Oh

Do You Break These Taboos on Chinese New Year’s Eve? Uh-Oh

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do to start the New Year right, the Chinese way.

The last day of the lunar calendar is Chinese New Year’s Eve (CNY), which falls on Feb. 18 in 2015.

So how do you throw a CNY eve party right? It’s all about being positive and grateful.

It is the biggest celebration in Han culture and the most important family reunion holiday. They hang couplets (auspicious and festive poems) inside and outside the house in important places. People show gratitude to the gods and to their ancestors for year-round protection and peace. The entire family will then gather in the evening for dinner, followed by giving lucky money and staying up till midnight.

Taboos and Dos

  1. You have to be positive… no fighting, crying, loud voices, or… moving things around the house too much. Keep it calm on CNY eve people.
  2. Everyone is encouraged to use positive words and say auspicious (hopeful and happy) things. Sounds like good advice for a party!
  3. On New Year’s Eve, family reunite by sharing a variety of special dishes symbolizing good fortune, happiness, and everlasting life, such as:
  • Fish—it symbolizes annual surplus (fortune all around).
  • Green vegetables—which stand for cleanness and fulfilled wishes.
  • Chives—they represent longevity.
  • Dumplings shaped like gold nuggets—good fortune of course! (Why didn’t I think of that?)

After dinner, elders hand out red envelopes with money inside, a ceremony for exchanging earthly blessings. The amount of money inside is not important—what matters is that family and friends show appreciation and gratitude for life and what they have.

It’s a very important occasion when family members stay together and share dinner, a time that can never be bought with money alone. Many people come a long way back home just for this special evening.

After dinner, the whole family then sits by the table or fireplace to drink tea and stay up talking. By doing so, people believe this enhances their parents’ longevity.

It is customary to stay up until after midnight. At 12 p.m. sharp, firecrackers are set off to welcome the first day of the New Year.

Translated by Natasha Yang

Monica Song
Born and bred in China, Mona keeps an ever watchful  eye the Chinese news headlines that are worth translating into English for Vision Times readers.

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