Chinese New Year celebrations throughout the world focus on a fresh start, hope for the future, and wishes for good fortune in the coming twelve months. This year’s holiday ushers in the year of the pig, the twelfth of all Chinese zodiac animals. The pig offers extra hope for prosperity as the animal is a traditional symbol of wealth whose chubby face and big ears are the sign of fortune.
Throughout the celebrations, there are many rituals and actions that celebrants can take to help themselves and others. Below is some more in-depth information on rituals you can try.
Before the new year starts: Don’t put off cleaning
A few days before the start of the new year, take some time to clear out old, negative energy and bad luck by cleaning your home or office. Sweep the floor dirt and crumbs, vacuum, get rid of the dust, and divest yourself of extra old things you don’t need. If there’s anything that’s broken, fix it or throw it away. As you do this, the Chinese believe you are getting rid of any bad luck and negative energy that had accumulated over the past year and setting the stage for good luck to come.
Procrastinators beware. Be careful to do this in the old year before the new year starts. The Chinese believe that if you do this on the first day of the New Year, you’ll sweep good luck and positive fortune of the fresh start right out the door.
Throughout the New Year, it is customary to eat, display, and offer gifts of mandarin oranges or tangerines. The golden-colored fruits are considered an auspicious sign of gold and good fortune. Furthermore, if there are still leaves and a stem attached to the fruit, it is taken to be a symbol of fertility.
On a linguistic level, the words for tangerine mean gold and the written word for orange is similar to the written word for good fortune. With so many good omens surrounding this fruit, eating some may bring you luck and prosperity during the coming months. Here is information from the Michelin Guide on Mandarin oranges, hailing from southern China, that will help you choose the type you will enjoy the most.
Bright red envelopes
One of the most well-known symbols for prosperity during the Chinese New Year is the bright red envelope with beautiful calligraphy. The envelopes contain a small amount of money and are typically given to children. They can also be given to dinner hosts, from adult children to their own parents, or from employer to employee. In this last case, money in a red envelope can take the place of a year-end bonus.
There is an etiquette connected to how to include money in a red envelope. To encourage the most amount of good fortune, place only new bills in the envelope and don’t use coins. Also, if you receive a red envelope, wait until after you’ve parted with the giver to open the envelope. To learn more about the red envelope tradition, click here.
Additional rituals to usher in prosperity
There are a few more things that the Chinese do during the new year that are said to bring good fortune. One of these is getting rid of past debts and paying bills. With these actions, you are literally cleaning out old debt for new good fortune. If you can’t pay off old debts, paying a small amount to each debt holder will help.
Other things that bring good luck include hiding as many knives and scissors as possible to prevent them from shredding your good fortune. You can also wear the color red or place coins in the mouth of the lion during the lion dance.
As you look towards what you’d like for the next year, consider giving some of these customs a try. They may bring you the prosperity and good fortune you’ve been seeking.