8 Forgotten Chinese New Year Traditions

In Chinese tradition, New Year celebrations begin with the appearance of the second moon after winter and end with the full moon a fortnight later. Historically, these festivities were marked by observing some rituals aligned to Chinese traditions. As modernization caught up with the young generation, some of these traditions have since been forgotten or are rarely observed. Below is a list of dying Chinese New Year traditions:

1. Grave Visiting

According to Chinese beliefs, on the third day of the New Year evils spirits wander about the earth. It is thus considered a taboo to go out visiting friends and family. This is because these spirits can possess and cause you to bring misfortune to the people you are visiting. For this reason, this day was set aside to appease the dead by visiting their gravesite and burning incense. This practice is no longer observed. The young generation continues to visit each other on the third day oblivious of the existence of evil spirits roaming about, as their ancestors believed.

2. Cooking on the 29thDay of the 12th Month

chinese new year traditioons

In the past, Chinese considered preparing dishes between the 1st and 5th day of the New Year unlucky. In order to avoid bad luck on the remainder of the year, people cooked enough food to last a whole week on the 29th of the 12th month of the Chinese year. The main delicacy cooked on this day was steamed buns. They would decorate them with red dots to add color to the celebrations.

Nowadays, things have changed and you would rarely find decorated buns. People, especially in the cities, no longer observe the cooking tradition.

3. Not Sweeping on the First and Second Day of the Year

New Year celebrations are marked with visitations by friends and family. They bring with them gifts besides items used for decorating homes. Often, the floors and compounds are strewn with trash. Sweeping on the first and the second day of the year is seen as taking away the good luck brought by visitors. For this reason, people never used to clean or dump trash at least for these two days. This is still common among the rural folk but not in the cities.

4. Sacrificing to the Five Roads God

The Five Roads God among the Chinese people is the god of fortune. These mythical roads are the North, East, Central, South and West roads. By offering animal sacrifices to this god, they invoked good luck for the coming year in their endeavors.

In North China, this ritual was observed on the 2nd day of the year while in the South the sacrifice was offered on the 5th day. With more young people leaving their rural homes to seek education in cities, this tradition is quickly fading and people no longer observe it.

5. Sending the God of the Poor to Heaven

According to Chinese legends, the God of the poor was the son of King Zhuan Yu and was fond of wearing tattered clothes. He was emaciated and even though peopled showered him with gifts of new clothes, he would tear them off first. To avoid seeing him in this state, folks opted to send him off to heaven on the 6th day of New Year. This celebration is no longer observed in modern day China.

6. Sacrificing to the Kitchen Stove God

On the 23rd day of the 12th month of the Chinese year, in ancient times, it was believed that the stove god would ascent to heaven and report to the Jade Emperor what people did in the ending year. Offering sacrifices to this god was believed to appease him and cause him to say good things about a family. Consequently, the sacrifices were sweet to signify good things folks desired to be said about them.

With the fading of traditional kitchen stoves even among the rural folks, this tradition is no longer common.

7. Opening-Door Firecrackers Ritual

As a way of ushering the New Year, every household strived to be the first to light up firecrackers at 12:00 AM on the first day of the year. It was believed that one’s success in the coming year would be great just like the loudness of the firecrackers.

This practice has been banned in the cities and is no longer observed except in the rural areas.

8. Tying the Knot Without Setting a Prior Date

chinese new year traditioons

On the last week of the Chinese year, folks believed that nothing was forbidden. Both gods and humans were free to engage in things that would otherwise be considered offensive. During this period, the young would get married without setting a wedding date.  Today, people no longer hold this belief, although most weddings are still held during this time. This is because the holidays present free time when people are not working.