There is a colourful selection of New Year customs in Asia and they have one thing in common: they show you how to get rid of all the bad luck of last year and start anew on a path that will bring you good fortune in the New. In Ireland we try to do something similar by making good resolutions that will not repeat the mistakes of last year. However in Asia they don’t just rely on themselves, they call on a lot of helpers! I wonder which approach is the more effective.
‘Couplets’ on red scrolls such as ‘Dragons and phoenix bring prosperity’ or simply, ‘Happy Spring Festival’ are hung beside doors.
There is a fish dish at the main meal because the words for ‘fish’ and ‘extra’ are similar, hence the greeting, ‘May you have fish every day,’ meaning may you have extra (food or luck) every day.
Food is offered to the Kitchen God so he will give a good report for last year and take care of the house for the next year.
Fortune telling is an obvious way to prepare for the next year and see if any bad luck is holding you back.
Respect is shown to ancestors for a number of reasons including the practical hope that they will forgive any lack of attention and extend help in future.
Gifts are given to relatives and friends for similar reasons and usually they are in the shape, and colour, of gold nuggets (gifts of Ferrero Rocher chocolates have become very popular for that reason.) Debts should be repaid too.
Don’t wash your hair as the word for hair is like that for fortune and you dont want to wash it out on the first day of the year!
Fireworks are set off and Lion Dances danced to scare off evil spirits and start the New Year without them.
There are plenty more, if you have time to fit them in!