Aurelia Baaba Odame Ofori, Head, Africa-China Banking – Stanbic Bank Ghana

Modern China gets to celebrate the New Year twice a year: together with the rest of the world on 1 January and according to the Eastern calendar. This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations started on Saturday, 10 February, when China and other Asian countries welcomed the Year of the Dragon.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, Dragon, is the only mythical and the most powerful creature of the 12-animal Chinese zodiac. This legendary magical beast is symbolic of authority, honour, dignity and unprecedented opportunities.

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a significant and festive time in Chinese culture. Alongside traditional customs and celebrations, there are several financial traditions and superstitions associated with Chinese New Year. Let’s look at a few;

1.           Red Envelopes (Hongbao or Ang Pao):

Giving and receiving red envelopes is a widespread Chinese New Year tradition. These envelopes usually contain money and are given to children, unmarried individuals, and sometimes even employees by their employers. The colour red is considered auspicious and symbolizes good luck and prosperity.

2.           Cleaning and Paying Debts:

Before the New Year, it’s customary to thoroughly clean the house to sweep away any bad luck and make room for good fortune in the coming year. Cleaning should be completed before New Year’s Day. Clearing debts before the New Year is also considered important to start fresh and avoid carrying financial burdens into the new lunar year.

3.           Buying New Clothes and Items:

Wearing new clothes during the Chinese New Year signifies a new beginning and is believed to bring good luck. Purchasing new items for the home, such as decorations or utensils, is also common to symbolize a fresh start.

4.           Avoiding Unlucky Activities:

Some activities are considered unlucky during the Chinese New Year, such as sweeping or taking out the trash on New Year’s Day. This is believed to sweep away good luck and prosperity.

5.           Setting Off Firecrackers and Fireworks:

The loud sounds of firecrackers and fireworks are thought to scare away evil spirits and bad luck.

In some places, governments may regulate or restrict the use of fireworks due to safety and environmental concerns.

6.           Offering Sacrifices:

Some families follow the tradition of offering sacrifices to the Kitchen God before the New Year. This is believed to ensure good fortune and prosperity for the household.

7.           Eating Symbolic Foods:

Certain foods are associated with good luck and prosperity during Chinese New Year. For example, fish symbolizes surplus and prosperity, while dumplings are believed to bring wealth.

8.           Visiting Friends and Family:

Visiting friends and family during the festive season is not only a way to strengthen relationships but is also seen as a gesture that brings good luck.

9.           Avoiding Sharp Objects:

Using sharp objects like knives or scissors is avoided during the celebration to prevent cutting off good fortune.

10.         Lion and Dragon Dances:

Performances of lion and dragon dances are common during Chinese New Year celebrations. These dances are believed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits.

It’s important to note that these traditions and superstitions can vary among different regions and communities. While many people observe these practices, modern celebrations have embraced more contemporary elements.

So, if you happen to find yourself in China during the Chinese new year or find yourself in the Chinese community anywhere in the world, make use of this information to assimilate effectively.  The 2024 celebration is from Saturday February 10 to February 24, with each day within the period having a special significance and symbolic activity to celebrate the day.

Source: Ghana/