Survival Guide: Chinese New Year Do’s and Don’ts

Credit: Andrew Haimerl/Pexel

Chinese New Year is all about good fortune, family gatherings, and once-in-a-century meals. And although we can’t wait for it to come round to relax and detox, it only makes it better if we remember certain practices to keep in check.


#1 Give out angpao



For married couples, giving out angpao (also hongbao) which translates to “red packet”, brings good luck. The recipients of the money-filled packets can be anyone ranging from nieces and nephews to single cousins – even grandparents! Though it’s not the amount that matters, it’s the action of sharing abundance that counts.

#2 Dress in Red Clothing

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Red symbolises prosperity and luck hence why the Chinese New Year celebration is painted in it. Wearing red means you are welcoming all things good into your life – wealth, health and happiness. Though if you haven’t got red, other light and bright colors are just as fine.

#3 Watch the lion dance performance


Credit: goldenjadephoto.wordpress

With the thundering sounds of the gongs and drums, it’s hard to miss the memo of a nearby lion dance. But did you know that just by watching or being among the audience, you are bringing good fortune upon yourself? The lions bring prosperity and reflect courage, resourcefulness and determination.

#3A Dig in some yee sang



Introduced to Singaporeans by Cantonese immigrants in the ’40s, there has since been variations of the dyed vegetable platter; including the addition of salmon. Usually served on the first day of Chinese New Year during the family reunion, the components of the dish are tossed in the air while wishes are said. Interestingly, the tradition is unique to Singapore and Malaysia.

#5 Accept and give oranges

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The Cantonese word “song kam” is the giving of Mandarin oranges; a practice originating from South China. Pronounced similarly to ‘giving gold’, giving oranges is a symbol of wishing others a prosperous year ahead.

#6 Be careful with your numbers


Credit: meemagnum/thechinesequest

Whether it be the number of angpaos given, or oranges, or houses that you visit, even numbers are luckier compared to odd numbers. The number 8 in particular, is the luckiest as its character looks similar to the word ’wealth’ in Chinese. Whereas the number 4 is on the contrary as it is similar to ‘death’.


#1 Sweep your house during the Celebratory Week



This doesn’t mean you can’t clean your house at all. But it is believed that sweeping your house during the new year may result in you getting rid of all the new good fortune along with the bad fortune of the past year.

#2 Cut your hair on the day of the event



Meeting relatives after a 12-month cycle can give one the jitters, and thus the effort of looking neat and clean. However, getting a haircut on New Year’s day itself symbolises the cutting of one’s life span. So make sure you arrange your appointments for an earlier date.

#3 Dress in white or black clothing

While red sends positive and uplifting vibes, black and white can’t be any more opposing. Not only dull, but the two also signify colours worn for funerals.

#3A Be careless of taboos



A new year, a new beginning. Bring more ong into your home and the homes of others by receiving and giving appropriate gifts. Here are a few to avoid so that you’re not a medium of bad luck:

  • Devices/gadgets that tell time
    • Misfortune: Symbolises a person’s life is coming to an end
  • Umbrellas
    • Misfortune: A sign that separation is about to take place
  • Pears
    • Misfortune: Its Chinese character is similar to a break in a relationship
  • Mirrors
    • Misfortune: An evil spirit magnet




Don’t take to heart any harsh criticism or personal questions – like the ones about marriage, or how your neighbour makes more business than you or why you were unlucky last year. Live in the moment, respect beliefs and enjoy the oranges!

Another tip, driving down every Chinese New Year can be pricey, not to mention the traffic jams. Plus, petrol not cheap wei! Save money on your travels this festive season with CatchThatBus. Book your bus ticket and begin your Chinese New Year preparations today!

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