From dumplings to cursing: Lunar New Year traditions

Say farewell to the Year of the Ox and hello to the Year of the Tiger.

The Lunar New Year, which marks the start of China’s 15-day Spring Festival, begins on Feb. 1 this year. It is China’s most important holiday, with cultural and historical significance. According to, the festival signals the arrival of spring and the start of a new year in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Contrary to popular belief, Lunar New Year is not just a Chinese holiday; it is observed all over the world. Due to COVID-19, many in-person celebrations and festivities have been canceled, but there are many things you can (and shouldn’t) do at home to ensure a prosperous and lucky year ahead.

From dumplings to cursing, here are eight Chinese traditions of Lunar New Year:


Enjoy dumplings

The Chinese word for dumplings, “jiao zi,” sounds like the ancient term for the exchange between the old and new year, according to So, by eating dumplings, you are saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new.

Set off fireworks

During the Lunar New Year, it is believed that setting off firecrackers and fireworks scares away evil spirits. Because fireworks are illegal in many places, celebrants have taken to popping small balloons to ward off bad luck instead.

Wear red

Wearing new clothes to ring in the new year is customary in China as a symbol of change and new beginnings.

“When buying clothes for Chinese New Year, go for red. This is the best color for the occasion. Stay away from black and white, as they are unlucky and negative,” stated on its website.

Clean your house

A thorough housecleaning before Lunar New Year’s Eve ensures that your family is free of bad luck from the previous year and ready for the good fortune to come. However, make sure you complete all of your cleaning before the stroke of midnight on Lunar New Year’s Eve — you’ll find out why below.


Wash or cut your hair

The first character in the Chinese word for prosper is the same as the Chinese character for hair. This means that washing or cutting it off is regarded as washing your fortune away, reducing your chances of prosperity and good fortune in the coming year.

Clean on the first day of Lunar New Year

Leave the dishes and resist the urge to sweep — cleaning of any kind on the first day is strictly prohibited. Good luck is believed to begin when the clock strikes midnight, so be careful not to wipe, sweep, or wash away any of it away, according to CNN.

Buy books or send them as gifts

Buying books during the 15-day Spring Festival is thought to bring bad luck because the word “book” in Chinese is pronounced the same as “lose.” Avoid sending books as gifts to friends as well, as this is also thought to bring bad luck, CNN reported.

Curse or argue with people

Set the tone for the year ahead by avoiding using negative words in conversation, especially words like death, poverty, sickness or murder. Being courteous and gentle is thought to bring good fortune and luck.