Tag Archives: Chinese New Year

A Particular Lunar New Years Custom

Last week I went to Mother’s home, joining the rest of the family in celebration of Lunar New Year, the Year of Goat. I stayed with my eldest brother, who is quite in-tuned with traditional customs. One custom in particular, with my personal lifestyle and current situation, maybe borderline superstition–This is another story, as a result of being far and away from my roots over the years…

As I mentioned in my previous entry, a nice custom about Lunar New Year is when everyone gets busy, in the final weeks leading to the changing time–washing their cars, cleaning their houses, shopping for new clothes, etc. That was exactly what happened in my brothers house. They rearranged furnitures, changed the living room rug, washed all the clothes, sheets, even hired a cleaning crew to deep clean the house… All this happened before New Years Day.

I, the traveler living out of her suitcase, accumulated some laundry during my stay. But the laundry machine had been occupied. So the only time I found both the machine and myself available to do the wash was after dinner on New Years Day.

So I washed my clothes on New Years Day. It was loud. The whole house could hear the machine running–Especially the dryer–when my jean buttons contantly banged on the rolling drum. My brother came and asked, “Are you doing laundry?”

“Yeah. Why? What’s wrong?”

“You’re not supposed to do laundry on New Years Day! Forget laundry, any kind of wash is sacrilege!”

“WHAT? Oh my god, REALLY?! What ghost or God did I offend now?”


“Ugh… What am I supposed to do now with my clothes all wet?”

Realizing me not knowing the custom, my brother forgave me at once. “It’s Ok,” he said, “Don’t worry about it. Just keep drying your clothes.”

I racked my brain with causes and effects, ecological effects, philosophy and science… If washing offends Water God, should we instead on New Years Day offend people around us with B.O.? 😬

I welcome anyone who knows more about this custom to enlighten me, and to share your insight with my readers. Thanks in advance.

Memo on Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year celebrates the New Year’s Day in the lunar calendar. This year, the Year of Goat, would start on Thursday, February 19th. The festivities are like a combined celebration of different western holidays.

It’s like Christmas, instead of gifts, children and unmarried young generation would receive red envelopes from their elders for wishes of good fortunes in the year to come. For those who don’t know, red envelopes contain cash. More on this tradition later, in a future entry.

It’s like Thanksgiving, immediate families gather for traditional meals, connecting across generations, across worlds, from the Eve through the midnight moment, into New Years Day; then extended families, relatives, and friends gather in the subsequent two days and enjoy good food and good times.

It’s like the fireworks on Fourth of July, every household lights up fire crackers at zero hour of New Years Day to scare off evil spirits. And children would play with fire crackers around this time of year.

And it’s like the solar New Year, the lunar New Year is a celebration of new beginning, with many things happening in not just one day–People would get busy even before the Eve to prepare for the new year. They would clean their houses, wash their cars, shop for new clothes to wear… And of course shopping for cooking ingredients for dishes to be served during the 3-day long celebration…

For a traditional Chinese New Year dish recipe, check back next week. 😉