We eat together, toss yee sang
and light firecrackers together and get super excited when receiving ang pou
but there’s a lot of interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about Chinese New Year.
Fact #1 - Before fireworks, burning bamboo was a thing
According to legend, a monster called Nian would appear every New Year's Eve to destroy homes and eat villagers. (I know, scary kan
). Anyway, one year, a group of villagers decided to burn dried bamboo to keep themselves warm and the explosive sound from the burning bamboo scared away the monster. Since then, those celebrating the occasion would burn bamboo to scare off monsters and bad luck. Only muuuuuch later were fireworks introduced into the equation.
Fact #2 - If the coming year is your zodiac year, it's bad luck
Year of the rat babies, beware! You may be excited that it’s your year but the Chinese believe that you are most susceptible to being taken by demons in the year of your zodiac. Don't worry though, we’ve got a secret weapon for you - the color red! Scare off the monsters by wearing red baju, red shoes, red decorations or even red underwear. It will protect you throughout the year.
Fact #3 - Millions of E-ang pao are sent on that day
Handing out red ang pao
packets is still a norm in Malaysia but in China, where CNY is celebrated on a grand scale, most people prefer the online version. In 2019, over 820 million users (that’s 820,000,000 - count the zeros with me people!) sent or received ang pao packets online.
*sings* Bangun pagi, gosok gigi,
phone berbunyi, dapat
Fact #4 - Washing hair is not allowed
Don’t you date reach for that shampoo! This taboo can be a little tough to follow in hot, humid Malaysia but push through and you could be cashing in this year. It is believed that washing your hair washes away fortune as hair (发) has the same pronunciation as facai
(发财), which means 'to become wealthy’.
Other no-nos include:
- Sweeping signifies sweeping away wealth.
Taking out rubbish
– This signifies dumping away the good luck from your home.
Fact #5 - A record-breaking number of text messages are sent on CNY each year
One-quarter of the world celebrates Chinese New Year. This year, approximately 2.2bil people will celebrate the festivities worldwide and just imagine the number of text messages flying around! Woah!
Fact #6 - Hospitals are a big no no
Visiting a hospital during the festive season signifies a year of sickness for not only you but your whole family. Eat vitamins, drinks loads of water and try your best to stay healthy. But but but… if you’re really sick, please go see a doctor.
Fact #7 - Kids should not sleep early on CNY eve
“Don’t you dare sleep Ah Boy!” This is probably the one day when you should allow kids to stay awake. It is believed that the later they stay up, the longer their parents will live. So, bring on the sweet treats, coffee and if all else fails, spoons full of sugar! Lol
#8 - Instead of CNY, Scottish people celebrate 'Gung Haggis Fat Choy'
Gung Haggis Fat Choy
(no, it’s not a typo) is a combination of Haggis, a traditional Scottish food and Gung Hay Fat Choy
, the traditional Cantonese new year greeting. The celebration is a mash between Chinese New Year and the Scottish cultural celebration of Robert Burns Day that falls around the same time each year. During this festival it is common to see lion dancers wearing quilts! Super cute!
And there you have it! Plenty of interesting facts to help you understand the festivities better and maybe bring up during a conversation with family and friends (or with that hunk or babe you've been trying to impress *wink wink*)
Happy Chinese New Year everyone!