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Chinese New Year Dos and Don’ts

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If you want to breathe some magic into your life as you head into the Year of the Pig, try these easy-to follow, tried-and-tested observances.

February 3

On the day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, you need to set to and clean house. This will clear out any bad vibes picked up over the past year and allow good luck to come in. Once through, put away your brooms and brushes – you can’t touch them again until February 8, lest you sweep out all the luck that you’ve just made room for.

You want to start the Lunar New Year ‘clean’ in more ways than one, so pay off all your debts and scratch off everything on your to- do list. You’re about to enter a new chapter and you don’t want to carry old baggage with you – try to resolve any differences you may have with friends, relatives or work colleagues.

Lunar New Year is a public holiday (February 5 to 7 this year) because it’s unlucky to work at this time. You need to avoid work of all kinds, housework too, so prepare meals for Lunar New Year’s Eve and Lunar New Year’s Day in advance.

February 3 is also the day to decorate your home for CNY – even this is considered work, and therefore needs to be done before Lunar New Year’s Eve. It’s traditional to hang firecrackers on your front door to frighten away evil spirits, and to fill your home with flowering plants, which symbolise growth and new beginnings. Live potted plants are preferable to fresh cut flowers but if any flower blooms on Lunar New Year’s Day, you can expect to prosper in the months ahead.

February 4

On Lunar New Year’s Eve, the trick is not to do too much. If you meditate, use the time to say goodbye to things that no longer serve you, and give thanks for everything that’s good in your life. Burn a little sage to free your home of negative energy, and pay your respects to your ancestors. What’s important is that you get together with family and friends for a celebratory (pre-prepared) meal to welcome in a new, prosperous year.

If you are celebrating at home, arrange bowls of oranges (for good health and long life), tangerines (for fruitful, lasting relationships) and persimmons (for happiness and wealth). Offer your guests eight varieties of dried fruit to ensure they start CNY sweetly.

Come midnight, open every door and window to let go of Dog Year and any bad vibes associated with it. It’s traditional to set off firecrackers to blast out the old and welcome in the new but, since these are illegal in Hong Kong, head to the fireworks display in Victoria Harbour on February 6 instead.

February 5

Everything that happens on Lunar New Year’s Day impacts on the year ahead, so be careful with your words, your deeds, what you eat and whom you greet. The first interaction you have sets the tone for your relationships throughout the Year of the Pig – so make sure it’s a positive one.

What you experience on February 5 will keep recurring over the next 12 months. Make sure your day is filled with love and laughter – don’t cry, and don’t lend or borrow money. Greet your relatives, neighbours and friends and wish them well.

CNY is a celebration of change. It’s important to speak positively about the coming year, and avoid talking about the year gone by, or things in the past. Wear new clothes, remembering that red is the colour of joy and happiness. Avoid wearing white or black, as these are the colours of mourning. Avoid all mention of death – don’t say 四 (the number four in Chinese) because it sounds like 死亡 (the Chinese word for death), and don’t tell ghost stories.

You already know not to work, cook or clean over the holidays. Be mindful not to wash your hair on Lunar New Year’s Day, as this will wash away your luck, and don’t use knives or scissors, as this cuts your luck.

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