A host of helpful dos & don'ts to get through the holidays faux pas free
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- Avoiding cultural minefields on Chinese New Year can be tricky, but follow these dos and don'ts and you should be just fine.
February 9, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
According to Taoist tradition, what you do over the holidays sets the tone for the rest of the year. So take care to avoid the use of curses and epithets, as well as the less obvious use of negative words. For example, consider retiring the word “meal” (飯), which is homophonous with “guilty” (犯). Substitute with “rice” (米).
Do Brush Up on Snake Sayings
Chinese New Year is a time for smiling at strangers and wishing them well. This year, try on these snake-themed blessings for size: “Prosper in the Year of the Snake” (she nian da fa, 蛇年大發), “Shake Down Like a Golden Snake” (jin she kuang wu, 金蛇狂舞), “May Your Charm Be Like A Snake” (mei li ru she, 魅力如蛇) and “May Your Brush Flow Like a Dragon and Snake” (bi zou long she, 筆走龍蛇).
Don't Toss Trash until Day 6
Even if your house isn't gleaming on Day One, don't clean. Don't pick up a broom and don't toss your trash, so that you can't inadvertently throw out the God of Wealth. Instead, wait until after Day Five — the God of Wealth's birthday.
If you break a dish, say “Rest in Pieces” (碎碎平安) to defuse bad luck. Wrap the fragments in a red envelope and then discard after Day Five.
If you have relatives a generation or more below you, start wrapping red envelopes. Give an amount that ends with an even digit, like NT$168 or NT$2,000. Avoid ending with a 4, which is homophonous with “death,” or an odd digit, which is associated with funerals.
The spirit of giving also extends beyond the family. During the holidays, many Taiwanese will pass out red envelopes to their security guards, waiters, maids or others in their employ.
There are a variety of other practices frowned upon, according to the Taiwan Taoist Association (台灣道教總會). Don't borrow money, collect debts, discipline your children, nag your spouse, pay your respects to elders on a sickbed, complain, nap on Day One, pour water out the door, eat porridge or sweet potatoes, use scissors or needles, sew, lift nets or call out to chickens.