Taipei (The China Post/ANN)
- Avoiding cultural minefields on Chinese New Year can be tricky,
but follow these dos and don'ts and you should be just fine.
Taoist tradition, what you do over the holidays sets the tone for
the rest of the year. So take care to avoid the use of curses and
epithets, as well as the less obvious use of negative words. For
example, consider retiring the word "meal", which is homophonous
with "guilty". Substitute with "rice".
Do Brush Up on
Chinese New Year
is a time for smiling at strangers and wishing them well. This
year, try on these snake-themed blessings for size: "Prosper in the
Year of the Snake", "Shake Down Like a Golden Snake", "May Your
Charm Be Like A Snake" and "May Your Brush Flow Like a Dragon and
Don't Toss Trash
until Day 6
Even if your house
isn't gleaming on Day One, don't clean. Don't pick up a broom and
don't toss your trash, so that you can't inadvertently throw out
the God of Wealth. Instead, wait until after Day Five - the God of
If you break a
dish, say "Rest in Pieces" to defuse bad luck. Wrap the fragments
in a red envelope and then discard after Day Five.
If you have
relatives a generation or more below you, start wrapping red
envelopes. Give an amount that ends with an even digit. Avoid
ending with a 4, which is homophonous with "death," or an odd
digit, which is associated with funerals.
The spirit of
giving also extends beyond the family. During the holidays, many
Taiwanese will pass out red envelopes to their security guards,
waiters, maids or others in their employ.
There are a
variety of other practices frowned upon, according to the Taiwan
Taoist Association. Don't borrow money, collect debts, discipline
your children, nag your spouse, pay your respects to elders on a
sickbed, complain, nap on Day One, pour water out the door, eat
porridge or sweet potatoes, use scissors or needles, sew, lift nets
or call out to chickens.