Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Lunar New Year! It’s the Year of the Metal Ox! To all my friends and former colleagues in China, enjoy your weeklong holiday! That’s right! They have a weeklong holiday for Lunar New Year and National Holidays. It’s technically not weeklong as you have to makeup two days on a weekend usually before and after the weeklong holiday. It’s so messed up sometimes that you take one week off and work one week straight.
So what are some Chinese traditions that day usually do for Lunar New Year?
- Cleaning the home before Chinese New Year. Why? So that you won’t sweep the blessings away.
- Preparing the New Year meal before Chinese New Year. I remembered my aunt in a cleaning and cooking frenzy before Chinese New Year. We had a sumptious meal on Chinese New Year Eve.
- Lighting up some Fireworks. This is one of my most awaited and most memorable thing I like about Chinese New Year. The big firework display usually occur on the eve of the Chinese New Year and the end of the Chinese New Year celebration. I remember more than a decade ago when the best firework display in Beijing lit up in flames the Mandarin Oriental. Ever since then, firework restrictions became tighter and tighter. There are still fireworks but they were far and few in between. The middle class and rich people prefer traveling with their family rather than spending it at home with a good meal.
- Red envelopes (Hong Bao). Usually given to single family members, kids and parents. The rule is quite confusing but usually kids and single adults are given red envelopes with money by their parents, aunts and uncles. The married and single kids give their parents red envelopes as well. For employees, they are usually given red envelopes in the form of a month’s wage during the month on Chinese New Year. I remember when I was still teaching English, the students will brag how much they receive and I was shocked with the amount. It has to be in values of 8 or 9. Don’t give in values of 4 (which sounds like the word for death).
- Wearing new red clothes from inside out. I remember my cousin bought me a new red sweater as everyone should be wearing new red clothes for Chinese New Year. Red symbolizes fire, which scares away the evil spirit.
- Washing or cutting your hair. Before Chinese New Year, salons are usually full of people having their hair cut. After Chinese New Year, they are usually close for a month. Why? The Chinese word for hair is the same character in the word for prosper. So washing or cutting your hair on Chinese New Year is seen as washing your fortune away and dramatically reduce your chances of prosperity in the year ahead.
Well, I’m pretty sure there are more but the ones above are the most common. Being a kid in Chinese New Year means a pretty full pocket of money for you. Hopefully the year of the metal ox would be better for everyone! Also, Happy Tet Festival to our Vietnamese readers!