New shoes and other CNY rituals

I am getting so old my idea of comfortable shoes are these platypus-like urban shoes that I broke out from the closet as a new item of clothing to wear on the first day of the new lunar year. I think my hair is making a thinner ponytail than ever before, and yesterday I couldn’t read the words on a screen not five feet away albeit under dim conditions.

I’m not normally a superstitious person (except when it comes to “sport” I guess) but I do observe certain Chinese New Year rituals even if I don’t know all of the origins. Here I have jot down all that I can remember/gather for the time being….

  • No hair-washing on New Year’s day (Loss of good luck)
  • No sweeping, which I translate to any kind of house-cleaning (Sweep away our fortune)
  • Wear red on New Year’s day (Demons think you’re bloody and dead and won’t pick on you)
  • Eat oranges and apples (for their colour)
  • Eat shrimp (ha, for happiness), fish (for yu, “plenty”), faht choy (means “prosperity”), noodles (for long life), and chicken (for some reason)
  • My mother goes vegetarian on New Year’s day
  • I read about having fish on New Year’s Eve dinner and saving some for the next day (symbolizing have yu – “plenty” – and having some left over)
  • Whatever you do on New Year’s Day, you will do the rest of the year
  • Do not visit relatives on the third day of the new year as it is a day easy to get into an argument
  • Day two is the birthday for all dogs (I didn’t know this)
  • Traditionally, it is considered bad luck to visit relatives and friends on the fifth day as it will bring them bad luck
  • Traditionally, you eat dumplings on the fifth day
  • The seventh day of the new year is everyone’s birthday
  • The fifteenth day is Chinese Valentine’s Day or the Lantern Festival; traditionally “soup (sweet) dumplings” (tang yuan) are eaten
  • As for lucky red packets – married people give (and they give double during the first year of marriage) while single people receive

I can’t think of any more right now….

On this day..


  1. teahouse says:

    Those shoes are SOOO CUTE!!! Where did you get them? I want some!

  2. wyn says:

    They’re a brand named “K9” with a pink shoebox at a store here called Shoe Warehouse. I can’t for the life of me Google the K9 brand. =S

  3. kelvin says:

    ……yesterday I couldn’t read the words on a screen not five feet away albeit under dim conditions……..

    You should be happy because at lease you can read the words on the book within ten inches…..:D

  4. wyn says:

    More customs….

    * Eat vegetables (choy) because it means “talent”. Eat dried oysters (hoe see) because it means “good things”.

    * On New Year’s Day, eat your leftovers from the day before – symbolizes you have plenty.

    * The New Year’s Eve dinner is called “tuun need fahn” and is done with family and friends – a gathering dinner.

    * New Year’s dinner is less distinguished.

    * The dinner on the second day of the new year is also special, you are “hoy neen” – opening the year – with a big dinner. After that dinner, you can resume your usual practice of squabbling with family members. =P

  5. wyn says:

    Yet some more Chinese food symbolisms:

    Bamboo shoots – wealth, used in variety of dishes
    Black moss seaweed – wealth, in savoury or sweet desserts
    Dried Bean Curd – happiness (note: fresh tofu is not served because the color white symbolizes death and misfortune in Chinese culture).
    Chicken – happiness and marriage (especially when served with “dragon foods,” such as lobster. Family reunion (if served whole)
    Egg Rolls – wealth, not to be confused with Chinese food take-outs, these fall under the “cookies/snacks” category and are sold in packs in boxes or cans
    Fish served whole – prosperity, togetherness
    Lychee nuts – close family ties
    Noodles uncut – Longevity, a long life
    Oranges – wealth, usually placed on the sacred family alter (along with incense) as an offering to the ancestors
    Peanuts – a long life, usually placed on living room tables as a snack during the celebration or found in savoury dishes
    Pomelo – abundance, prosperity, having children, placed on alter as well
    Seeds – lotus seeds, watermelon seeds, etc. are also placed around the house as snacks- having a large number of children
    Tangerines – offered on the family alter along with other fruits and snacks in wish of a round, no bumps, and complete year

    Also, perhaps my favourite New Year’s indulgence, is the Nian Gao or Chinese New Year Cake (also called Sticky Cake or Steamed Chinese Fruitcake); it is made with glutinous rice flour and filled with an assortment of dried fruits and is usually eaten after dinner as a dessert. It can be panfried after being dipped in an egg/flour batter or steamed. A charming Chinese custom is for families to serve Nian Gao to the ‘Chinese Kitchen God’ a mythical god who returns to heaven every new year to report on a family’s behavior during the year. The more tasty the cake, the better the report!

    Jiao Zi or dumplings are also served after midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve and stands for wealth. Families usually hide coins in a few dumplings as a symbol of the luck ahead for the ones who finds them in their Jiao Zi.


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