The Lunar New Year is celebrated by nearly 1/6th of the world and is sometimes called Chinese New Year or Spring Festival (marking the beginning of Spring). It is a date that follows the movement of the moon so it falls on a different date every year. This year it will be on February 12th. Each year is assigned a zodiac represented by an animal: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig (there are 12 total). Each lunar cycle is 60 years (the “recent” lunar cycle was started by the Year of the Rat in 2020).
In China, the celebration begins on the Eve of the New Year and is closed by the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. It is the longest public holiday in the country where people generally have two weeks off from work and students have one month off for break in order to travel home to their loved ones to celebrate. Having a huge feast (similar to Thanksgiving in the U.S.) and spending time together is important to mark the occasion. Additional festivities like the Dragon Dance, lighting red lanterns, and fireworks are used to celebrate as well.
Here are 10 tips you can use to welcome luck into your home this year:
1. Clean Your Home
Prepare the house by cleaning from top to bottom (physically and energetically). The idea is to get rid of all the bad or stagnant luck that has been trapped all year and create a blank slate for the new year. One thing to keep in mind is ALL the cleaning should be done before New Year’s Day. Any cleaning that takes place on New Year’s Day is a big no-no because you will clear away any good luck.
2. Decorate Your Home
It is customary to decorate your home using the color red in order to invite happiness, wealth, and prosperity. Red and gold paper cuttings and lanterns are used to dispel evil spirits and invite good luck. There are also Chinese characters that are hung on doors to signify luck, wealth, and health should enter the home. Other decorations include poems suspended on banners celebrating a happy future or flowers set around the house. Flowers have specific meaning depending on what you wish to invite: peonies for wealth and peace, orchids for abundance and fertility, and peach blossoms for prosperity and growth.
3. Wear Red Clothing
Red is a lucky color, which also symbolizes happiness, longevity, and prosperity. Some people buy new clothes (specifically new red underwear) to wear during New Year’s Day. The idea is to show up in your best for the first day of the new year so that feeling can carry throughout the year.
4. Eat The Right Foods
There are many foods that indicate good luck due to their name or appearance. Prepare and gift such foods to eat with your friends and neighbors. Fish is eaten at New Year’s because the word “fish” sounds like the word for “abundance.” Similarly, tangerines are considered lucky because their name sounds like the word for “wealth.” Noodles symbolize longevity with its length, dumplings resemble old currency in China symbolizing wealth, seeds (like sunflower or pumpkin) symbolize fertility, and sweets (candies and pastries) symbolize a sweet year to come.
5. Give Red Envelopes
Money is placed in red envelopes in even numbers (with the exception of anything with a four, because that sounds like the word for “death,” so it is avoided) and given to people as gifts. The idea is that the good fortune you sow will come back throughout the year. Depending on who you ask, there may be different criteria for how much money is given—$2, $10, $20 or more—and to whom. Wealthy people give it to everybody (children, single, or married), whereas more commonly it is only children or people who are single.
6. Avoid Foods That Are “Unlucky”
Common or simple “working man’s” breakfast of porridge or oatmeal symbolizes poverty and shouldn’t be eaten on New Year’s Day.
7. Do Not Wash Your Hair
Beware of washing your hair on New Year’s Day because you could be washing the good luck right out of your year. Everything should be done on New Year’s Eve and you should be fresh and clean in your new clothes for New Year’s Day.
8. Avoid Cleaning On New Year’s Day
Remember that all cleaning should’ve been done before New Year’s Day? If you forgot to do it or didn’t get to finish, do not continue on New Year’s Day. Stop everything. No sweeping, no mopping, no taking out the garbage or else you could be throwing away all your good luck that’s supposed to last you the whole year.
9. Use Only Positive Language
Avoid mentioning death, ghosts (spirits), dying, or the number four (which sounds like the word “death”). Keep your language and spirit positive because you are setting the tone for the rest of the year! If you speak kindly and compassionately, your year will be happy. Start happy, end happy.
10. Choose The Right Gift
It is customary to bring a gift for your host if you are invited to New Year’s Dinner. Make sure you choose the right gift because the wrong one could spell disaster for your host’s year. Avoid sharp objects because it symbolizes severing relationships, handkerchiefs and clocks because both are items given during funerals, anything that has or involves the number four, and shoes because it sounds like the word for “evil.” Some safe bets are flowers, sweets, or red envelopes.