Chinese New Year taboos in Shanghai

Updated: 2016-02-06 03:00

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Chinese New Year taboos in Shanghai

In Shanghai culture, tofu is a food that’s usually offered to the friends and relatives of a deceased person during the wake and is hence regarded as an inauspicious thing to have on the dining table during the first 15 days of the Lunar New Year.

However, tofu takes on a completely different meaning in Northern China where people say its Mandarin pronunciation sounds like “blessings to all”.

Shanghai people are generally frugal individuals and they will usually keep leftover rice for breakfast the next morning, heating it up with hot water. But one will never find this on the table on New Year’s Day because people associate it with economic difficulty.

In terms of activities, Chinese people refrain from sweeping the floor, washing clothes or even taking out the garbage from their home on New Year’s Day as they believe that such actions take away the good luck for the new year. People also avoid using the kitchen knife on the first day as it is considered a lethal weapon and hence not a symbol of good fortune. In order to do so, housewives usually chop or slice their ingredients a day in advance.

Other forbidden activities include scolding children on New Year’s Day as it signifies that the kids will end up being reprimanded all year round. Swear words are also forbidden throughout the day.

The first day of the Chinese New Year is also the perfect time to sleep in because no one is allowed to rush another person out of bed — doing so connotes that the person will be rushed to make decisions for the whole year. Furthermore, visitors should only greet someone after he or she has gotten out of bed. Doing otherwise is akin to wishing them a year of being confined to bed due to sickness.