Lunar New Year has long been the most important cultural celebration on the Chinese calendar. And as the mother of two kids born in China, it’s also one of my favorite holidays. The auspicious occasion brings with it a slew of traditions all designed to invoke good fortune and repel bad luck. But over the years I’ve found that even for those who scoff at superstition, Chinese New Year customs can bring a welcome sense of renewal to a seemingly endless winter. Ready to ring in the Year of the Dragon with a fresh outlook? Here’s how:
1. Clean Your House
The Chinese make sure to sweep every corner of a room to rid their homes of ghosts and bad luck associated with the old year. If negative spirits don’t lurk in your living room, chances are a layer of dust and grime from dry heat and slushy boots does. Get a jump on your spring cleaning while the weather outside’s still frightful enough to keep you stuck indoors.
2. Get a Mini Makeover
In China, it’s customary to get a haircut and new clothes for the new year. The idea is that with a new look, bad spirits won’t recognize a person and follow them into the new year. I don’t know about you, but a little shopping and a brand-new ‘do chase my bad spirits away every time.
3. Make Amends
Carrying grudges into the new year is a no-go according to Chinese tradition, so differences with family, friends, and associates must be settled before New Year’s Eve. If your shoulders are sagging from the weight of a grudge or two, take the initiative to resolve them and revel in how much lighter you feel.
4. Pay Off Your Debts
Like grudges, old debts are a bad omen for a new year. No matter which calendar you follow, there’s no time like the present to settle any outstanding accounts and repay loans from friends and relatives. If your debt’s too big to pay off all at once, create a realistic plan for decreasing it and commit to making your monthly payments.
5. Spend Time With Your Family
In China, offices and stores close down for Chinese New Year and people spend days traveling to their hometowns to reconnect with family, feast, and simply enjoy the company of their loved ones. Remember last Thanksgiving when you promised your cousins that you wouldn’t wait until the next family gathering to get together again? Get out your calendar and pick up the phone.