Chinese New Year, sometimes known as Spring Festival, is a centuries-old celebration of the lunar New Year. Widely celebrated in China, the festival is the pinnacle event of the year, also honored across Asia, particularly in areas with large Chinese populations, including Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is considered a major holiday in Chinese culture, and is a time for families to be together.
If you have clients or co-workers in China or of Chinese descent you may want to learn about do’s and don’ts during next week’s Chinese New Year, which begins officially Monday, Feb. 8 and lasts for two weeks. The holiday really kicks off on Sunday, with the traditional New Year’s dinner, which is thought to be the most important meal of the year.
Whether you have colleagues who celebrate Chinese New Year or not, this list of do’s and don’ts can help you have a luck-filled New Year.
- Be mindful of when you schedule meetings—staff schedules may fluctuate as people begin preparing for the holiday starting around February 1.
- Wish your associates ‘Gong Xi Fa Chai’ (pronounced Gong Zee Fah Chai) — “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity” — in Mandarin.
- Dress in something bright on the first day of Chinese New Year. Some say it’s best to wear red, which symbolizes good luck, from head to toe to bring you heaps of luck the entire year!
- Exchange mandarin oranges in pairs with friends and family. They are said to bring great wealth.
- Eat or drink something sweet in the morning to bring happiness.
- Buy a lottery ticket in the morning – you may win some money!
- Consider sending your Chinese colleagues an e-greeting card as a thoughtful gesture.
- Wash your hair on the first day of Chinese New Year. If you do, you’ll wash away your luck.
- Wear black or white clothing, which is associated with mourning. Other dark colors are thought to attract evil spirits.
- Swear. Probably a good practice in the office any time of year.
- Argue or demonstrate anger as it can bring bad luck.
- Purchase any footwear for the entire 15 days of Chinese New Year. In certain dialects the word for shoes is a homonym for the word for evil. Buying shoes or receiving them as a gift during Chinese New Year is considered bad luck.
Photo: Preparations for Chinese New Year in London courtesy of Stacie Saunders, Senior Manager - Social Business and Communications, American Institute of CPAs.