Chinese New Year Special: 5 Interesting Taboos To Avoid

And it's 'that time of the year again'... it's Chinese New Year and this year, we usher in the year of the Metal Ox.

The ox is known to be a robust and methodical creature that is not only reliable to human labour, it is also humble in the sense that it does not need praises or be in the center of attraction for it to perform at its best. Though they do not show their strengths openly, they are instantly recognized for their hard work. Would be interesting here to draw some parallel with our Corporate lives... but it might become sensitive :-) !

I have been in Singapore for 13 years now, and every year I have been celebrating Chinese New Year 'my own way' with some rituals that I relate too. And above all, I am super cautious to respect all the taboos when welcoming in the Lunar New Year.

With that said, here are five Chinese New Year Taboos to avoid for an auspicious and fortune-filled year ahead.

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Do Not Clean or Sweep

The most common ‘no-no’ when it comes to ushering in the Chinese New Year is to avoid cleaning the house or office. But surely we need to keep our homes and workplaces clean right?

Well, the popular belief is that we should do all the necessary housekeeping before the day itself and only throw out the trash that we have after the 5th day. The reason for this is so that we do not “sweep” out the good luck that we have in our presence.

Avoid Cursing or Using Harsh Words

Saying negative words are naturally frowned upon in any customs, but the Chinese believe that using them on such an auspicious day might jinx ourselves and those around us. Some narrations take on an even heavier penalty, for when we pass a negative opinion on others, we are putting a curse on them. We definitely wouldn’t want that do we?

Some of the words to avoid are along the lines of death, sickness, illness, misfortune, poverty, and pain.

Try Not To Use A Pair of Scissors

Or any sharp objects, for that matter. The belief is that cutting something with scissors may implicate your stream of success and wealth. That is the reason why we see many of the barbers and hair salons around our areas closing up a week or so at the start of the new year.

Do Not Conduct Any Form Debt Repayment/Demands

The primary reason for this taboo is actually to show more reasoning and understanding than it is superstitious. It allows everyone a break in terms of monetary values and debt, instead, focussing on celebrating the new year with those we cherish. There are opinions that if one were to knock on someone’s door demanding their debt to be paid, bad luck will follow both parties. It is also believed that if you borrow on one of the days of the new year, you might find yourself borrowing for the rest of the year!

Gifts To Steer Away From

It is common practice to give gifts to those around us on any of the holidays. But there are some presents one should avoid gifting when it comes to this special day. The most well-known ones are:

Clocks: Symbolizes running out of time or 送钟, which when pronounced, is an event of completing a burial of a close family member

Sharp Objects: To cut off business ties or kinship

Anything with the Number 4: 四 or sì when pronounced, is similar to the word “Death” and should be avoided at all cost

Instead, there are many gifts that we can share our love and joy with, such as wine and exotic teas, flower baskets as well as red packets.

With that, I would like to wish all my readers Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! (Happy Chinese New Year) and for those who are not celebrating, a superb and well-deserved rest for the weekend.

And may we have an auspicious and blissful year ahead.

About Timeo-Performance

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Through recruitment, training and consulting, Timeo-Performance provides solutions for increased performance of companies, teams, and individuals. As our clients are in the center of global business and often serve the APAC region, our solutions need to be sustainable in a multicultural and remote context.

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As busy professionals, our schedules are often filled to the brim with meetings and tasks to complete. We can get so caught up with work that we might even forget our all-important lunch and power through dinner as well. Alas, we can only do so much given the 24 hours we have in a day. While time management is vital, being productive is another matter in its entirety.Enter time batching.


Isabelle Larche

Managing Director, Recruitment & Executive Search at Timeo-Performance

Isabelle is a Human Performance expert, with over 10 years of professional recruitment experience, and 15 years of Business Management Consulting experience. Isabelle is the Vice President of the French Chamber of Commerce and Trade Counsellor (Singapore Chapter) to the French Embassy.

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