Your guide to Lunar New Year dos and don’ts

This year, January 28th marks the first day of the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. Also known as the “Spring Festival”, the Lunar New Year lasts for 15 days and is celebrated in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, to name a few.

Steeped in rich history, many traditions and superstitions are observed throughout the New Year to bring good luck and prosperity. Get to know the dos and don’ts during this festive period:

What to avoid:


✗ Taking medicine

According to myth, taking medicine on the first day of the New Year can result in more illness during the rest of the year.

✗ Doing the laundry

Do away with washing clothes to avoid offending Shuishen (水神, the God of Water), whose birthday falls on the first and second day of the lunar calendar.

Relax, your laundry can wait. Image source

✗ Washing or cutting your hair

Doing either of these could wash and cut away your good luck in the coming year.

✗ Lending or borrowing money

They say if you do this on the first day of the New Year, you’ll end up spending the entire year in debt.

✗ Using sharp objects

Avoid scissors and knives that could cut away your wealth in the new year.

Keep all sharp objects away from both children and adults. Image source

✗ Sweeping and taking out garbage

Using a broom inside the house can sweep away and take out the good luck from your entire household. Keep brooms hidden on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Don’t throw trash and good luck away. Image source

✗ Giving the wrong gift

For the New Year and other special occasions like birthdays, giving shoes, watches, clocks, pears, green hats, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, mirrors and sharp objects as presents is a big no-no because these items have negative meanings and associations in Chinese culture.

What to do:


✓ Pay your debts

If you owe any money, pay off all your debts by New Year’s Eve. Forgetting to do so could land you in debt throughout the new year.

✓ Use firecrackers and fireworks

It’s ideal to welcome the New Year with a bang, literally. The noise and bright colors are believed to scare away evil and inauspicious spirits.

Don’t be afraid to make lots of noise! Image source

✓ Wear something red

Colors have varied meanings in Chinese culture and as the most auspicious color, red can attract wealth and abundance. Gold is a lucky color, too, but avoid white and black as they symbolize death.

✓ Give tangerines or oranges

Symbolizing good luck, these fruits are given in twos because, according to the Chinese saying, “Good things come in pairs”.

Receive your luck with both hands. Image source

✓ Prepare red packets

During the holidays, parents and married couples often give monetary gifts to their children or friends. The amount doesn’t matter – it’s the gesture that counts. The red color of the small envelope called “hong bao” in Mandarin symbolizes good luck and can ward off bad spirits.

✓ Clean and declutter before New Year’s Day

Spring cleaning before the beginning of the lunar calendar is recommended to get rid of the old and make way for the new.

✓ Eat symbolic foods

Depending on the country, it is believed that eating certain symbolic foods, such as fish, dumplings, Niangao (glutinous rice cakes), abalone, noodles, pineapple tarts, preserved dried fruits and vegetables in a traditional candy box can bring joy, luck, prosperity or wealth in the year ahead.

The traditional candy box called 全盒 in Chinese is made of 6 or 8 kinds of preserved dried fruits and other edible goods. Image source

What other superstitions do you observe during the holidays? Share them with us!

And to all our friends who will be celebrating over the next week, Happy Lunar New Year from all of us at Gengo!

Jenie Gabriel

The author

Jenie Gabriel

Jenie creates and coordinates content for Gengo's marketing team. Originally from the Philippines, she was an advertising creative in Singapore before moving to Tokyo. In her spare time, you’ll find her wandering around the city or planning her next escapade.

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