Today is the first day of Chinese New Year. Now I’m no expert at these traditions and every family celebrates them differently, but I can share with you what my family and I do for CNY.
To prepare, this is my ritual for Chinese New Year Eve:
- If you need a haircut, cut it before the eve. I actually won’t cut my hair until after the 15th of the Lunar Calendar because I don’t want scissors to ‘cut my luck’. My girlfriend from China actually told me, ‘you’re super old school.’
- Buy your clothes for new year and don’t buy again until after the 15th of the Lunar Calendar. As a kid it was annoying as I finally got some spending cash from my lucky money, and I couldn’t do any shopping. But then I figure it’s because you should welcome in every New Year with gratitude, and having what you need. So no new clothes, as we should have what we need!
- Clean your house (not always on eve, but the week before as this can take time if you procrastinate like me) – you want to make sure your house is clean of all last year’s energy and you’re leaving a clean slate for this year’s good fortune to come. That means a nice deep cleaning of all, throwing out all your trash on CNY Eve, a good sweeping of all the floors, and taking a shower and washing your hair.
- Ready your New Year Finery – you want to welcome in the new year with new clothes if possible. So take that swanky outfit out and get it ready for the next day. If new clothes are not possible, wear all clean well pressed clothes. Have you ever noticed how many Chinese babies wear their little traditional ’emperor’ clothes during the New Year, and always in good luck colors like gold and red.
- If you’re married, stuff red envelopes with lucky money – give these out to friends and family to wish them great luck and fortune for the coming year.
- Have a family dinner and laugh and enjoy yourself. This is always the best part.
- If you have kids, you usually pass out the red envelope to them on this evening.
New Year’s Day
- Put on your New Years Clothes. Do whatever you want, just make sure you relax and enjoy yourself. This is the biggest Chinese holiday of the year!
- When I was young, I didn’t always shower on this day as I wanted the luck that landed on me to stay. But to this year, I still keep from washing my hair on the first day of the New Year. Now tomorrow, that’s another story!
- I don’t make eggs. Some Chinese feel that doing things like cracking an egg is harsh with the breaking of the shell, and can if it can be avoided, avoid it. So I don’t make eggs. But that doesn’t stop me from having others in restaurants break them delicious things to cook up on my behalf!
- Pass out red envelopes to family that visits.
- Have dinner with entire family!!!
The second and third day of the three-day celebration is open to visiting more family and friends, as opposed to just your immediate for eve and day 1. So keep the revelry going! It’s the new year.
On the 3rd day of the New Year, make sure to take out all your trash – did I mention not to throw out your trash for these days because you want that good luck to remain in your home! – and give your house a good sweeping again. Usually the luck that lands and lives in your house may turn on the 3rd day, so you want to sweep it all up and out. This is the last day of the 3 day celebration, and it’s a good time to see friends and enjoy yourself – after the house chores! LOL
Again, these are just some of the simple things I do for Chinese New Year. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but my friends always ask me about these little things so I thought I’d put it on paper.
Gung Hay Fat Choy. I hope the year of the Dog brings you great health, joy, and happiness.
Oh and if you want to see a traditional Lion Dance and welcome in the New Year with me, I’ll be at Ontario Mills Saturday at 3 to celebrate! Come by!