You know Chinese New Year is coming when your family buys three things: pineapple tarts, prosperity burgers and chrysanthemum teas.
You also know they’re serious about it when they practice all sorts of weird and wonderful superstitions. Cannot use scissors lah. Cannot say bad words lah.
Remember that time when…
1. Your mother asked you to clean your car
The second most annoying question after “When are you getting married?” is “Have you cleaned your room?”
Maybe it’s just me because spring cleaning is tiring to do.
So when you finally cleaned your room and ready to relax with a cold Shandy, your Mum comes around with another chore, “Wash your car already ah?”
Basically, she wants you to clean everything before the big day. Sweeping, wiping and dusting are frowned upon during Chinese New Year. It’s the same as sweeping away good luck and blessings from your home. To be frank, I don’t think any Chinese parent would want that to happen. So be nice and do your part of the chore.
Of course, your parents won’t stop there. The next thing that happens is…
2. Your father put oranges in your car
For many of us, Mandarin oranges are great for two things: getting rid of pimples and for throwing our phone numbers into the river. But did you also know Mandarin oranges are luckier than two lucky Japanese cats combined?
Oranges are a symbol of good luck. So don’t give your Dad a weird look when he puts that fruit on your car’s dashboard. It’s a great way to welcome the Lunar New Year.
Since it also brings good luck to the car owner, do whatever you like with those oranges, Dad!
As much as it brings blessings, I’m not a fan of the next one.
3. Your grandma warned you not to wash your hair
It’s weird to not wash your hair before meeting someone. The fact that Chinese New Year is always the hottest time of the year makes it worse. But when grandma tells you so, it’s for good reason.
Just like sweeping during Chinese New Year, washing your hair will remove your luck, fortune and everything in between. Damn, you thought it only removes dandruff, huh? If your hair desperately needs a wash, use dry shampoo. It’s at least better than walking around with an oily scalp.
Here’s another thing they tell you not to do during Chinese New Year.
4. Your auntie cautioned you against wearing black
Steve Jobs might be your style inspiration, but your auntie won’t be happy seeing you in black. “Why you wear this colour? Are you going to a funeral?”
In Chinese culture, black is associated with mourning for the departed. Since we’re celebrating the first day of the Lunar calendar, Chinese New Year is all about bright red and gold.
Nobody shows up in dull colours. Unless you’re planning to invite death in the coming year, do save your auntie from this minor heart attack.
Speaking of style choices, your cousin will say no to this too.
5. Your cousin says no to shoe shopping
It doesn’t matter if Zalora is having a major sale – buying new shoes during the Chinese New Year will give you a year of sadness and despair.
In Chinese, shoes are pronounced as “hai”, which sounds like a sigh or “rough” (in Chinese). While it’s nice to spend your angpao on a pair of limited-edition Air Jordans, they’re not the box of happiness you should seek during this time of the year. Maybe spend that angpao on a dream holiday instead!
Speaking of angpao, here’s another way you’ll probably get money this year…
6. Your long lost relative pays their debt
They say you shouldn’t lend money to your family or friends, but sometimes you can’t help it. It’s the least you can do to help someone in need.
If you’re lucky (and your relatives are thoughtful enough), they’re likely to clear their debt before the Chinese New Year. The same goes for clients, colleagues and close friends, which we should be pleased about. Everyone does this because starting the year in debt will set yourself up for another year of debt.
Nobody wants more debt on top of the PTPTN loans we have to pay right? So welcome it with open arms (and palms). And if you are the one owing others money, make sure you clear yours too!
While it is fun to count money in your sleep, your mother will come and nag you about something else…
7. Your mother nags you for napping
Whether you’re taking an early train ride or waiting for your girlfriend to finish shopping, everyone loves taking a nap. While napping is an excellent way to recharge, don’t do it during the Chinese New Year.
They say an afternoon nap could set you up for a whole year of laziness. You’ll be unproductive and demotivated, and you can expect everything in your life to move at a slow pace.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s the laziness that worries your mother. She probably needs your help entertaining and serving chrysanthemum teas to your guests. So get up and make yourself useful by helping out.
Oh, and don’t forget to do one last thing!
8. Your grandpa told you to play with your nieces and nephews
The first few days of Chinese New Year are spent with your family. Your aunt will ask when you’re getting married. Your grandma feeds you with good food. Also, your nieces and nephews will bug you to play with them.
When the family’s favourite toddler invites you to play, entertain them. They say a child who cries during Chinese New Year will bring terrible luck to the family. Not just for a day but for the whole year!
I know it’s hard if you hate kids but be nice. Tell them a good joke and make fun of yourself. Put a smile on their face because you need all the luck you can get.
Despite how some of us might feel about superstitions, it’s part of the tradition for many Chinese families. While some may seem weird to you, it’s practical to clear your debt and spring clean at least once a year. And if it brings luck and fortune during the New Year, that’s a great bonus!
As much as I would love to say that superstitions are silly, we choose what we want to believe. Come on, it’s no coincidence that there are only eight signs in this article. If eight is the lucky number for wealth and fortune, I’m ready to be Jeff Bezos this year.
Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!
For more articles on Life, read Malaysians Tell Us the Stupidest Things They’ve Done in High School, and 6 Things a “Banana” Goes Through.