Published 06 February 2018 Category: Compass Tips

The Do’s and Don’ts of Chinese New Year

It's time to say goodbye to the Rooster and hello to the year of the Dog!

This year's Lunar New Year, which marks the beginning of the 15-day Spring Festival in China, begins on February 16. It is the biggest holiday of the year for many Chinese - and for some the only time they get enough leave from their jobs to travel home and see their loved ones.

But along with the reunions come a lot of traditions - and superstitions - aimed at making sure the year ahead is lucky and prosperous. Many people already know that red is associated with luck and prosperity, hence all the fiery hues you see on Lunar New Year decorations and clothing.

Here are a few other key dos and don'ts that many Chinese follow before and after the Lunar New Year.


  • Wish everyone you meet a happy New Year by saying "gong xi fa cai", which translates to: "Have a happy and prosperous New Year!"

  • Wear articles of red clothing because red symbolises luck.

  • Eat vegetarian food because it’s not good to see blood.

  • Buy new trousers because the Chinese word for trousers is "fu", (Chinese homonym for wealth).

  • Children should stay up as late as possible on New Year’s Eve for it is believed that the later they stay up, the longer their parents will live.

  • Visit family (especially those older than yourself) and friends to pass on your wishes on good fortune for the New Year.

Hand out red envelopes (lai sees -the red envelope full of money) to each child. This is your way of passing good luck to the next generation. Business owners also give lai see to employees and associates.


  • Don’t wear white or black clothing, since they are the traditional colours of mourning.

  • Don’t wash your hair for the first three days of the New Year, because the Chinese word for hair is a homonym for the Chinese word for wealth. Therefore, Chinese believe it isn’t a good thing to ‘wash away your wealth’ right at the start of the New Year.

  • Floors may not be swept and garbage may not be disposed of on the first day of the New Year for fear of casting riches out the door.

  • Don’t swear or quarrel.

  • Don’t break any dishes; otherwise you may incur more misfortune for the New Year. In the event of breaking a dish, quickly say "Peace for all time", and the bad luck will be warded away.

  • Don’t greet people who are in mourning.

  • Don’t drop your chopsticks.

  • Don’t say the number ‘four’ (Chinese homonym for death) or mention death.

  • Don’t borrow or lend money.

    Chinese New Year can be referred to as 农历新年 (nóng lì xīn nián) or "Agricultural New Year", or more commonly 春节 (chūn jié) or "Spring Festival." It’s bigger than Mardi Gras. It’s bigger than the 9.3 billion-dollar Chinese holiday, Singles Day. It’s even bigger than Christmas.