Chinese New Year is a quite important festival for people in Taiwan, just like Christmas for Westerners. Meanwhile, it has a long history, leading to a variety of rich traditional customs. With the changes of centuries, some of these customs don’t have the same functions as the past. However, these traditions should still be preserved both now and in the future because they are absolutely an essential and significant cultural heritages for Taiwanese. Here are 5 DOs and 5 DON’Ts about Chinese New Year to share with you. Try to follow these customs as the saying going, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
The “DOs” during the Chinese New Year in Taiwan
Worship Gods and Ancestors:
Both before and during Chinese New Year, we have to burn incense sticks and pray, but do you know that at the different time, who we pray to are different? Before the first day of Chinese New Year, usually on Chinese New Year’s Eve, people pray to our own ancestors for the purpose of thanking them for blessing us a safe and good last year. On the other hand, during Chinese New Year, we worship Gods in order to welcome them come to the mortal world, blessing and protecting us.
Called as the dinner surrounding the stove, every family members will gather to have a feast together after worshiping the ancestors on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Hence, it is considered as a quite important date in a year. Generally, the reunion dinner will be at elder member’s home, but it’s alright that some modern family eat the reunion dinner at the restaurant for convenience.
Get the Lucky Money:
Say “Happy Chinese New Year!” whenever you meet a elder members in your family, and maybe they will give you a red envelop with some lucky money inside. Yet if you are an adult, you need to give out lucky money to your junior family members!
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Give Chinese New Year’s Greetings:
Usually, the junior family members have to give greetings to senior ones at the first day of Chinese New Year. Then, you could also give greetings to your boss, teachers, coworkers, classmates or friends. Let me provide you some examples of greetings, such as “Great fortune and great favor”, “May everything go as you hope”, “Wishing you prosperity and wealth”, and “Wishing you youthful vigor”, which must be loved by ladies in your family.
Set Off Firecrackers:
It is said that the noises of firecrackers are used to scare away Nian, the monster in Chinese legend. Then, setting off fireworks has gradually been an important activity to add some hustle and bustle to Chinese New Year.
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The “DON’Ts” during the Chinese New Year in Taiwan
● Don’t splash any water out:
Traditionally, people think that there are some good lucks and fortunes of wealth hidden in the house of every family. As a result, if you splash water out, you might drive God of Wealth away from your home. Please remember it or you must be scolded!
● Don’t have a fight or argument with anyone:
As a good beginning brings about a good coming year, remember not to have a fight with others or scold kids no matter how angry you are.
● Don’t go to the hospital:
If not necessary, don’t go to see the doctor or have an injection as far as possible. So that you are able to live a safe and healthy year.
● Don’t say anything ominous:
This is the must remember thing unless it is believe to bring an unfortunate year. Besides, curse words and swear words are the must not as well.
● Don’t break something like bowl or glass into fragments:
To prevent breaking the fortune of wealth, not to break something like bowl, glass, mirrors or porcelain is an essential taboo as well. However, if you break any carelessly, don’t be too nervous as it could be remedied. First, wrap these fragments with red papers and hold them in your hands. Then, say “Peace through the years” as the blessing. It’s because that the pronunciation of “break”（碎） sounds like “year”（歲） in Chinese.
In the end, one of the most local activities during Chinese New Year is playing mahjong and cards. Not only is it thought to be a good recreation to maintain relationship, but it also could bring people some fortunes of wealth.
Do you think it very difficult to remember all of these rules? That’s alright. We think the reason why our ancestors established these customs is to make every family members gather together in one day of a year and do something regardless of any kind of activities. As a result, please just forget any annoyance and fatigue and have a great time with your beloved family.