5 things not to do during Chinese New Year

Know your superstitions to avoid New Year embarrassment or misfortune

Do avoid washing your hair

Do avoid washing your hair

An unlucky woman.

Don't go gloating about your shiny, freshly-washed hair for at least three days during Chinese New Year (we're not implying you do not wash). Whatever the state of your bodily hygiene, cleanliness is generally not appreciated during Chinese New Year.

Your hair is only shiny because you washed all the luck away so it's bare. No dusting the house, washing, throwing out – it's all very bad luck.

Don't cut your hair

Don't cut your hair

Snip, snip.

There's power in the hair. Cut it and you'll be helpless the whole year.

Okay, that last bit we made up. But cutting hair is a no-no, a tradition that leads to a rush on hairdressers in the run up to the festival, as anyone that has attempted to get a last minute hair appointment can testify.

Don't be in debt

Don't be in debt

He's watching you.

Asking to borrow money – even if it's a tenth of 1RMB – or being in debt is bad news at New Year. It's all symbolic. No wonder people who sell property are desperate to do so before the new year, so they can settle the balance sheets before it eats them up with bad luck.

Start in the red (the Western way), and you'll end that way too.

Do get new money

Do get new money

Check out those fresh bills.

Go to the bank and exchange your random 100RMB bills for spanking new sets and (better still) sequentially numbered notes (the print order, if you didn't know). It's lucky to have a string of following numbers and if you're going to put money in a hongbao, make sure they're not your tattiest bills.

No one will reject the money because, well, it's money, but they'll be sure to notice how dirty your gift is.

Don't sharpen your knives

Don't sharpen your knives

Make sure to sharpen up before Spring Festival.

Do not even attempt to sharpen your knife (while washing your hair?).

As with the hair cuts, anything to do with cutting is about cutting short your luck, and therefore the utensils are also to be left alone. It might be high time for that big family meal, but if you forgot to sharpen the chopping knife, you'll just have to cope with a blunt-ender till later on.

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