The above is a common greeting the first time we meet friends and family throughout the Chinese New Year, i.e., any time within the fifteen days of the festival.
What do Chinese families normally do on Day 1 celebrating the first day of the new lunar year?
In the old days, firecrackers would be set off before they go out visiting. It is believed that the noise from firecrackers can drive away evil spirits. The red colour in firecrackers also symbolises good luck in traditional Chinese culture.
Today in Malaysia, as in many parts of the world, setting off firecrackers is an offence. However, for official functions, permits can be obtained for setting off firecrackers usually along with a lion dance or a dragon dance.
On the first day of Chinese New Year, we visit elders and senior members of the extended family including parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunties, and others in their homes and wish them a happy new year.
If distance is a constraint, advancement in technology has helped bridged the distance.
During Chinese New Year, we are required to mind our language remembering to be mindful about using positive words and refrain from using unlucky words such as 'die' or 'bad luck'. Swearing and losing temper is a no-no.
On the first day, it is customary to observe a vegetarian first meal. For most of us, this is one day in a year, slaughtering of animals is refrained.
On the first day, sweeping the floor is definitely out. This is akin to sweeping away good luck. Brooms are normally kept out of sight. Doing laundry and other cleaning chores are also avoided.
Breakable items such as crockery are handled with care. This is because a breakage could be an omen of an unhappy incident in the family. Sharp objects such a scissors are also kept away. Clipping of nails and washing of hair are also avoided on the first day of Chinese New Year.
Traditionally, red is the colour for Chinese New Year. The colour to avoid is black. These days, other colours are also favoured to be worn that are believed to bring good fortune in the coming year.
This year Google has an interesting interactive doodle for Chinese New Year that involves a game with snakes and goodies associated with the holiday, this being the Year of the Snake. You can go to Google search to play the game.
- Chinese New Year Eve - Reunion dinner