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Some of the 86 pages in this Myth & Lore section are below.
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Superstition & Tradition
of the Chinese New Year
Since today is the beginning of the
Year of the Golden Monkey, on the Chinese Calendar, I thought
I'd share this with you.
The entire house should be cleaned before New Year's Day. On
New Year's Eve, all brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans and
other cleaning equipment are put away. Sweeping or dusting should
not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune will
be swept away. After New Year's Day, the floors may be swept.
Beginning at the door, the dust and rubbish are swept to the
middle of the parlor, then placed in the corners and not taken
or thrown out until the fifth day. At no time should the rubbish
in the corners be trampled upon. In sweeping, there is a superstition
that if you sweep the dirt out over the threshold, you will
sweep one of the family away. Also, to sweep the dust and dirt
out of your house by the front entrance is to sweep away the
good fortune of the family; it must always be swept inwards
and then carried out, then no harm will follow. All dirt and
rubbish must be taken out the back door.
Bringing In the New Year and
Expelling the Old
Shooting off firecrackers on New Year's Eve is the Chinese way
of sending out the old year and welcoming in the New Year. On
the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, every door in the
house, and even windows, have to be open to allow the old year
to go out.
New Year Activities Set Precedent
All debts had to paid by this
time. Nothing should be lent on this day, as anyone who does
so will be lending all the year. Back when tinder and flint
were used, no one would lend them on this day or give a light
Everyone should refrain from using
foul language and bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and the
word "four" (Ssu), which sounds like the word for
death, are not to be uttered. Death and dying are never mentioned
and ghost stories are totally taboo.
References to the past year are also
avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and
a new beginning.
If you cry on New Year's day, you
will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated
and are not spanked, even though they are mischievous.
Personal Appearance and Cleanliness
On New Year's Day, we are not supposed to wash our hair because
it would mean we would have washed away good luck for the New
Red clothing is preferred during
this festive occasion. Red is considered a bright, happy color,
sure to bring the wearer a sunny and bright future.
It is believed that appearance and
attitude during New Year's sets the tone for the rest of the
Children and unmarried friends, as
well as close relatives are given lai see, little red envelopes
with crisp one dollar bills inserted, for good fortune.
More New Year Superstitions
For those most superstitious, before leaving the house to call
on others, the Almanac should be consulted
to find the best time to leave the home and the direction which
is most auspicious to head out.
The first person one meets and the
first words heard are significant as to what the fortunes would
be for the entire year.
It is a lucky sign to see or hear
songbirds or red-colored birds or swallows.
It is considered unlucky to greet
anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick,
should get dressed and sit in the living room.
Do not use knives or scissors on
New Year's Day as this may cut off fortune.
While many Chinese people today may
not believe in these do's and don'ts, these traditions and customs
are still practiced.
These traditions and customs are
kept because most families realize that it is these very traditions,
whether believed or not, that provide continuity with the past
and provide the family with an identity.
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