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Lunar New Year superstitions & traditions

Lunar New Year superstitions & traditions

In China, it’s called Chunjie. In Korea, it’s Solnal. Tibet has Losar and Vietnam has Tet. Some call it the Spring Festival but to all, it’s Lunar New Year.

For millions of people worldwide, the new year has yet to begin.

Lunar New Year usually begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It ends on the following full moon. Dates can change and may differ depending on the country. This year China celebrates it from January 22 until February 5.

In Chinese astrology, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. More specifically, it’s the Year of the Water Rabbit. It’s a good year for reaching your goals and creative ambitions. To guarantee a lucky 2023, revelers honor rich traditions.

Lunar New Year celebrations like this one in the UK happen all across the globe.

How is Lunar New Year celebrated?

A light-up dragon created for New Year's celebrations in Thailand.

Light & Noise

Lanterns, candles, and fireworks cast off the night and welcome back the light. Paper lanterns hang in public areas for good luck. Firecrackers scare away Nian, a legendary sea monster. Over two weeks, revelers enjoy parades, performances, and dragon dances. It all culminates with Yuan Xiao, the spring lantern festival on February 5.

Like so many holidays, family time is spent cooking and eating together.

Quality Time

This time of year tends to be one of the busiest travel periods around the world. Millions make their way home to spend time with family and friends. Connecting with family and honoring your ancestors is a central part of Lunar New Year celebrations.

Eat a dumpling at midnight for good luck.

Food

As with most major holidays, people gather for a big feast. Chinese New Year food traditions include long noodles (they symbolize a long life) and dumplings (to represent good luck, wealth, and togetherness). Making these foods is usually a family activity and eating them happens at midnight

In Tibet, detailed butter sculptures like this image of the buddha are created for different special occasions.

Bright Decor

Welcome a bright year ahead with auspicious orchids and peonies. In Vietnam, it’s popular to decorate with peach and apricot blossoms. In Korea, they use decorative cranes as a symbol of longevity and magpies for good luck. For Tibetan New Year, they create intricately carved butter sculptures as offerings to deities and a symbol of generosity.

Red envelopes, or hóngbāo, are a lucky gift.

Red

There’s a lot of red involved in Lunar New Year. It’s considered a lucky color and good luck is a common theme for any New Year’s celebration. Homes, streets, and stores are often decorated in scarlet. Red brings good fortune so children (and unmarried people) get red envelopes of money as gifts.

A sycee or yuanbao was a type of gold currency used in ancient China.

Lunar New Year superstitions

There’s a lot of symbolism and spirituality connected to Lunar New Year. As important as the celebrations, treats, and decorations are the taboos and superstitions. To get your best shot at a lucky 2023, here are 10 to avoid from January 22 to February 1:

🙊 Don’t say anything negative. Avoid words with negative connotations (sick, pain, poor, kill, etc.) so they don’t jinx your year ahead.

🥃 Don’t break ceramics or glass. This risks breaking your connection to good fortune. If someone drops a dish during the Lunar New Year festivities, some may wrap it in red paper and get rid of it after the holidays

🧹 Don’t sweep or clean. These activities should happen before the Lunar New Year begins. If you do it once the holidays start, you risk sweeping away or throwing out your good luck. Most wait until after the fifth day to take out any garage if required.

Don’t use scissors or sharp objects. Just as a broom can sweep away good luck, scissors can cut it out of your life. In some countries, hair salons close during this time.

👫 Don’t visit the wife’s side of the family. It’s said that if a wife goes home to her parents on New Year’s Day, it’s symbolic of marriage problems. Some say it could bring bad luck to the whole family. Wait until the second day to visit and be sure to bring a gift.

💰 Don’t ask for your money back. If someone owes you a debt, don’t collect until after New Year’s or it means bad luck for you both. Also, don’t ask for money or you may need to borrow all year long.

😠 Don’t get upset. Try not to fight or cry to ensure a smooth year ahead. Aim to resolve problems with peace and calm.

💉 Don’t see the doctor. You should never ignore serious medical issues. But, if you can avoid it, don’t go to the doctor, get surgery, get a shot, or take unnecessary medication.

🛌 Don’t offer a New Year’s blessing to someone in bed. If your loved one is still in bed, wait until they get up to share the sentiment. And don’t wake them up!

Don’t give anyone a clock. The Chinese translation of the word sounds like paying last respects, making it a bad omen.

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