For Good Luck

image courtesy of Tamao Funahashi

Happy New Year! … I feel like I just wished everybody that. Oh, wait, I did. I guess I should be more clear. Happy Chinese New Year! Happy Year of the Ox!

Living in San Francisco, it’s hard to not know when the Chinese new year arrives (news alert: it’s today). There was a “mini parade” over the weekend in Chinatown. The big parade is next month. Last week, I began an art class – our first project was to draw and watercolor a dragon – you know, like the ones in the Chinese new year parades. I’ve never gone to one of the parades. But this year may be my year. A friend has asked me about possibly participating.

Then LUSH sent me the Double Fast Luck Emotibomb they created just for the new year. You put it on the floor of the shower and it releases their super popular signature scent, Karma. It’s pretty cool as it fizzes away and adds yummy, spicy-orange aromatherapy into the shower. It’s designed to look like a lucky coin and is supposed to bring good fortune – apparently real quick. I hope that’s the case. Who couldn’t use some good luck?

Get Some Good Luck

That got me thinking about good luck and what I could do to usher more of it into the year of the ox. There’s lots of lore about how to do this. I did some research and have some fun stuff to share with you. Here are some things you can do that are supposed to bring luck. This information brought to you by Wikipedia. Smart ass asides are from me.

“At New Year’s, you must have a lot of dishes… says Veronica Leung, co-owner at the restaurant Dim Sum Go Go. “An abundance of food means you are not missing a single thing in your life and that you will have a very smooth year.”  And go for long noodles for a long life

  • Out with the old and in with the new. Yup, open those windows and or doors, even if just for a bit. Doesn’t matter if it’s cold out. Suck it up, people.
  • Leave the lights on. Switch on the lights for the night to scare away ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year. OK, this one’s not environmentally friendly. But hey, it’s just one night.
  • Clean up your act… yesterday. Have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year. However cleaning the house on New Year’s Day is frowned upon (see below). I did a bit of cleaning yesterday and will happily do none today.
  • Stomp out gossips. Wear a new pair of slippers bought before the new year to step on the people who gossip about you. That’ll teach ‘em!
  • A lucky bath. The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo (Chinese grapefruit) leaves to be healthy for the rest of the year. I’m afraid I didn’t do this. I’ll have to save this for next year.
  • Sweety for a sweety. Eat sweets to ensure a “sweet” year. I can handle this, no prob.
  • Chow down. “At New Year’s, you must have a lot of dishes - shrimp, fish, beef, chicken and pork,” says Veronica Leung, co-owner at the restaurant Dim Sum Go Go. “An abundance of food means you are not missing a single thing in your life and that you will have a very smooth year.”  And go for long noodles for a long life. (New York Daily News)

Avoid Bad Luck

Buying a pair of shoes today is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The character for “shoe” is a homophone for a character that means “rough” in Cantonese; in Mandarin it is a homophone for the character for “evil.”

But it’s not all about what you should do. There are also some don’ts. Don’t do these things, because they’re supposed to bring bad luck (also from Wikipedia)…

  • No new Manolos. Buying a pair of shoes today is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The character for “shoe” is a homophone for a character that means “rough” in Cantonese; in Mandarin it is a homophone for the character for “evil.”
  • Avoid bookstores. Buying books brings bad luck, because the character for book is a homonym to the character for “lose.” To be on the safe side, perhaps it would be prudent to simply not touch a book today.
  • Avoid clock stores (another toughie – I’m always at clock stores). Never buy a clock for someone or yourself, because a clock in Chinese tradition means your life is limited or “the end.” I’m gonna have to assume this only applies for the new year. I know there are Chinese people out there with clocks. By the way, I’m noticing a trend here. Seems like it would be good to just not shop today.
  • Hair caution. Getting a haircut in the first lunar month apparently puts a curse on maternal uncles. I don’t have any maternal uncles so I think I’m safe here. And washing your hair is supposed to wash away your luck. I hope you didn’t wash your hair this morning. But if you did, you should be okay. This one’s not practiced so much anymore, because of “modern hygienic concerns.”
  • No clean sweep.  Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it sweeps away good fortune for the new year.
  • Watch your mouth, sailor. Saying words like “finished” and “gone” are considered bad luck. Don’t say “I finished doing my makeup.” Instead say, “I completed my makeup.” Swearing is also a big no no. (Damn, that’s gonna be hard.) And no talking about death. I hope nobody dies today.
  • Be careful what you wear.  Avoid clothes in black and white. Black is a symbol of bad luck. White is a traditional Chinese funeral color.
  • Four = bad. Offering anything in fours is consider bad, because four in Chinese can sound like “death.”
  • Just say no. You are advised to avoid medicine and “medicine-related activities,” at least on the first day, as it curses your health and lessens luck for the new year. I gotta tell my friend who’s a pharmacist to call in sick today. Now I’m not the authority on this bad luck/good luck stuff; but I’m thinking this might be one to skip if you take a vital medication every day. If you end up passed out or in a coma, because you skipped out on your drugs, that would be bad. And it’s believed that what happens today sets the tone for the rest of the year.

I hope these handy tips have been helpful, that they bring you good luck, and help you avoid bad luck.

The Prosperous, Patient Ox

By the way, per Wikipedia, “The Ox is the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work. This powerful sign is a born leader, being quite dependable and possessing an innate ability to achieve great things. As one might guess, such people are dependable, calm, and modest. Like their animal namesake, the Ox is unswervingly patient, tireless in their work, and capable of enduring any amount of hardship without complaint.”

Good for you oxes! I, however, am a dog. Apparently, I’m loyal, loving, and easily learn tricks. According to the Chinese zodiac, this year’s supposed to be lucky for me. Want to know what’s headed your way in the Year of the Ox? Click here. Don’t know what your sign is? Then click here.

What About You?

So what’s your sign? Do you do anything special to bring you luck? Do tell.

P.S. Check out our regularly updated Beauty Resources page for some fantastic beauty deals, from companies like Benefit, beauty.com, and Origins.

SonjaFor Good Luck

Comments 16

  1. Ashe Mischief

    Actually, it’s giving of a clock that is bad. I only know this because at work (in Fundraising) we give out clocks to our 25 year donors. We had a Chinese couple recently give us a dollar for the clock, because they can’t accept them as gifts. Buying them, however, is a different story. And this is last year, so it’s an all the time situation.

    Too bad I wore black today :/

  2. Frankie - Swell Vintage

    Hooray, I knew there was a reason I needed to eat sweets and lots of other food today…x

  3. Princess Poochie

    I washed my hair last night but wore black and grey and silver. Am I luck-neutral now? Must load up on chocolate to tip the scales (hee hee!) in my favor.

  4. Sonia Luna

    Oh no, I just finished sweeping the floor! Should have read your post first!!! I hope I didn’t sweep all the good luck out the door I sure could do with some this year[it is still in the yard, should I sweep it back in, I wonder?].
    Right, going to the shop to stock up on sweets to make up for the sweeping
    (The sacrifices I make!!!)

  5. jennine

    hahah, i love this! superstition is always soo interesting… that said, this year i’m supposed to be lucky in love but unlucky in health and money. i guess you can’t have it all!

    and dude, i can’t open the window… too coold.

  6. Tami

    I was always taught never to give clocks away, as much as I love them myself…and oddly enough my family’s home had the number 4 and 8 (homophone for fortune) so I guess it canceled each other out.

  7. winnie

    It’s funny because we practice most of these supersitions at home but it’s strange having them all written down!

  8. Sonja

    ❤ Ashe Mischief, thanks for clarifying. Some of these definitely needed more details.
    ❤ Frankie - Swell Vintage, absolutely!
    ❤ Birdie, I always wanted to be something more exotic, like a dragon, but now I like being a dog, because, like you said, we rock! And yes, so far, so good. Let’s keep up this momentum!
    ❤ Princess Poochie, I like the way you think. I washed my hair today so I’m going to eat a box or two of chocolates to even things out.
    ❤ Sonia Luna, sorry to hear about the sweeping. But yes, do eat lots of sweets and other foods and then open the doors and windows for a bit to usher the good luck back in. :D
    ❤ Jennine, I know what you mean. Why can’t we just have luck in every single area? Go ahead and open a window or door even just for a minute. I read somewhere that even a little bit counts. Now go put on your winter coat and gloves and open up! :D
    ❤ Tami, that was the first I’d ever heard of that. I’ve given my husband a couple alarm clocks. I’ll never do that again! That’s interesting about the numbers. I love this stuff.
    ❤ Patti Lee, thanks so much!
    ❤ Winnie, how interesting. I’m glad to hear that I got some pretty accurate information. This was really fun to work on.

  9. Sonja

    ❤ Hey, everyone! A friend just tipped me off to a great site that has Chinese horoscopes: http://www.tarot.com/chinese-astrology/chinese-horoscopes-2009. Now I’m going to go eat some chocolate. :)

  10. choubelle

    Love the picture at the top of the post! Oh no! Last night I went to a book store AND said, “I finished my makeup.”

    But wait. It is two days after the Chinese New Year! ..And I have never celebrated it, as I am mostly Irish-American!!

    Fabulous post. :)


  11. Sonja

    ❤ Thanks, Glendy! Wishing you Great Happiness and Prosperity as well (at least I think that’s what the translation is)!
    ❤ Thanks, Choubelle! Isn’t that pic fabulous?! I was so happy that the photographer let us use it. That’s funny that you said “finished.” I have no idea if I did. I’m not terribly superstitious. But I did eat a lot of chocolate to be on the safe side. haha!

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