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.
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