Preparing for Chinese New Year 2020
Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a brand new year, and is regarded by all Chinese as the most important festival to be celebrated. Preparations for this celebration begins as long as 30 days before the start of the Lunar New Year, which is filled with many rituals and important actions to prepare one’s home for the coming new year. This year is especially important as 2020 marks the start of a brand new decade, but more, it also marks the beginning of a brand new cycle, led by the animal sign of the RAT.
Here are the most important things you need to take note of as you prepare for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
Time to Repair and Replace!
At least 60 days before Chinese New Year, you should inspect every corner of your home for cracks on the walls and floors, and especially look for signs of any water leakages. Water damage or water leakages going into the New Year can seriously affect the well-being of family members.
It is important that any water leak, especially leaking faucets, sinks and toilets are repaired, as leaking water in one’s home means “loss of money and unnecessary expenditure”.
You should also consider giving your home a new coat of paint, as doing so means you go into the New Year with a home with fresh new energy.
Ensure that every nook and cranny including behind cupboards, refrigerators, and tops of cupboards are completely swept and cleaned to remove dust and stale energy from the previous year. This is a good time to toss out old magazines, newspaper, unnecessary plastic containers, plastic bags and other items you would never use. While you are cleaning out old trash, keep an eye out for furniture that needs repair or refurbishment.
After you have completed cleaning and repairs, move on to the furniture, sofa sets, tables, chairs and other fixtures; inspect and clean these as well. Sofa sets that are torn or damaged should be repaired or replaced. Inspect your dining table and chairs. They should be in a good state, as the dining table represents the rice bowl of the family. Remove and replace chairs that are broken or rickety.
You must also not forget the bed, as the condition of your bed will play a big part in how the coming year will pan out for you. Sleeping on a damaged or broken bed brings obstacles and obstructions into your life. If the bed frame is cracked or damaged, it can cause rifts in your relationships, and bodes badly for husband and wife.
Inspect the cutlery, plates, cups, bowls and serving dishes you use. Replace any with chips, cracks or that show other signs of damage. Eating using damaged utensils is VERY BAD FENG SHUI! Doing so will hinder your progress in your career and affect the prosperity of the family.
Inspect the contents of your cupboards and clothes drawers, dispose of mismatched socks, torn or thread-worn undergarments, shirts and pants. Give away clothes that you have not worn in more than a year because you didn’t like the colour or design. Clearing out your cupboard not only symbolizes removing bad luck, but also creates the kind of luck that makes room for new things to come into your life. Do the same thing for your shoe cupboard.
Cleaning Your Home Altar
Start by asking the deities for permission to clean, then remove the images and figurines. Make sure you place them on a table that is at least waist high. Never place them on the floor.
Wipe or brush off loose debris, then proceed to wipe all surfaces of your altar clean with water and pomelo leaves (you can also use kaffir lime leaves if you prefer.) You should also replace damaged or worn out items on your altar, and clean out incense burners, candle holders and other offering bowls.
Once you are done cleaning your altar, make a complete set of offerings to your home deities and ensure you have ample supplies of incense, candles and other prayer supplies.
When you are done cleaning and restocking your altar, it is a good idea to perform a simple incense space cleansing for your home. You can do this by lighting up kemenyen or sandalwood incense, then walk around each room 3 times in a clockwise direction, all the while picturing the incense cleansing and removing any stale or negative energy.
Visualize a home filled with laughter, happiness and good luck while you are doing this.
You can also chant the incense offering mantra:-
NAMA SARVA TATHAGATA AVALOKITE OM SAMBHARA SAMBHARA HUM (x21)
Restock Your Kitchen
The kitchen is the powerhouse of your home. This is where families are brought together through the simple process of eating the fruits of their mother’s labour. Ensuring your kitchen is well-stocked with food and supplies is of utmost importance. Start by inspecting your refrigerator – toss out vegetables, fruits, jams, half-open cans and leftover food that is unwanted or expired.
Clean out your rice urn and after washing and drying it well, place a red packet with 3 Chinese coins tied with red thread at the base, and fill to the brim with rice.
Remember that your Rice Urn Must Be Kept At Least ¾ Full All Through the 15 Days of Chinese New Year.
Next, you should stock up your fridge in preparation for Chinese New Year as it is important that you cross over to the New Year with lots of things to eat at home.
Eve of Chinese New Year – Family Reunion Dinner – Friday 24th Jan 2020
In the morning, you should prepare a “tray of togetherness” which is simply a special box filled with an assortment of sweets, biscuits, melon seeds, candies and oranges for any guest that drops by during the 15 days of celebration.
The actual dinner itself is for all members to come together as a sign of togetherness and prosperity. A typical reunion dinner should have a minimum of 8 dishes and comprise the following ingredients, based on their symbolic meanings.
- Luo Han Zhai (Buddha’s delight) – a vegetarian dish made with “Fatt Choy” (a type of black hair fungus – means prosperity)
- Bamboo Shoots (brings wealth)
- Day Lily Buds (“Kanchamku” – means golden needles)
- Napa Cabbage (Pao Choy – guaranteed success) and other assorted vegetables. This dish is to serve notice to family memberthe importance of purity of mind and togetherness in good karma.
- A Fish Dish – as fish carries the meaning of “Lin Lin Yao Yue” – which means your year will be filled with abundance and good luck.
- A Chicken Dish – indicates happiness and a happy marriage, or having Duck which means fidelity and good children.
- Big Prawns or better still a Lobster – this carries the meaning of “ha ha tai siew” – means there will always be big laughter in your home.
- Abalone, Scallops, Clams, Oysters – indicates a bountiful harvest for your business.
- Braised Pork with Sticky Rice – indicates your family will always be together and share success and good fortune with each other.
- Long Life Noodles – indicates long life for all in the family.
- A Sweet Dessert – such as those made with peanuts, or red beans is served with a simple dumpling “jiaozi” means that your family always have good endings to every endeavor.
- Fruits such as pomelo, grapes and oranges are a must as these fruits mean prosperity and abundance of wealth and opportunity.
- Yee Sang – an all-time favourite in Asia. This dish is eaten all through the New Year as it is a ritual of welcoming prosperity and wealth. The process of putting together the dish is an art by itself filled with many rituals and sayings. Below is a step-by-step method to making the perfect Yee Sang for a prosperous Year of the Metal Rat.
Pick up the slices of raw fish and place it on the main dish – can be salmon or other suitable raw fish, and say “Lin Lin Yau Yue” – this means every year we shall have an abundance of wealth and prosperity.
Pick up the cut lime and squeeze out the juice over the raw fish, and say “Dai Kat Dai Lei” – this means that with prosperity comes even bigger prosperity.
Pick up the black & white pepper powder together with the sachet of 5 spice powder and say “Ng Kuk Fung Sou” and “Po Po Koh Seng” – this means you will have a big harvest with continuous improvements in the future. Now, scatter the contents of all 3 sachets evenly over the main dish.
Pick up the bowl of oil and plum sauce and say “Choy Yun Kwong Zun” and “Kum Yuk Mun Tong” – this means that wealth will come to the family and their house filled with jewels. Pour the contents evenly over the main dish.
Pick up the crushed peanuts, toasted sesame seeds and sliced lime skin and say “Tai Chi Hong Po” – this means your business will expand and have big success. Pour them over the main dish.
Pick up the bag of crackers and say “Moon Dei Wong Kum” – means that your floor is abundantly covered with gold. Evenly scatter the crackers over the main dish.
Now that the dish is correctly assembled, everyone should stand up and using their chopsticks, gently toss the ingredients together.
Everyone should also say:
Sang Yi Heng Loong – May our business become more prosperous.
Si Si Yu Yi – May we have a smooth career and prosperous year.
San Tai Kin Hong – May our family stay healthy.
Pak Nin Ho Hup – May our marriages be everlasting
Sai Kai Wo Ping – May we live in harmony and have peace.
Ching Chun Mei Lai – May we always stay young at heart.
Nin Sang Guai Zi – May we have wonderful children.
Long Ma Jing San – May we be alert for all business opportunities
Fuk Yu Dong Hoi – May our abundance and prosperity be as vast as the oceans.
Fu Guai Weng Wah – May we be rich and famous
Gong Hei Fatt Choy – May we all become seriously wealthy.
After the reunion dinner, it is customary for all family members to stay up late with all the lights on, and light firecrackers or turn up the music to usher in the New Year at the stroke of midnight with a big bang and plenty of joyous laughter and celebrations.
TABOO – NO SWEEPING OF THE FLOOR AFTER 10.00 PM
Chinese New Year (Saturday 25th Jan 2020)
Today being the first day of new year, it is forbidden to sweep the floor, no bathing (until 12 noon), no washing of your hair, you are not allowed to get angry, you must not cry, you must not use vulgar language, and you are not allowed to drink anything bitter.
You should wake up early and dress in your new clothes (preferably with something red).
Family members should gather together in front of the family altar and offer incense to their home deities and ancestors. After that, younger members of the family should offer their elders a cup of the 8 precious sweets tea and wish them ‘Kong Hei Fatt Choy’.
• 8 pieces of red Dates
• 8 pieces of candied Winter Melon
• 8 pieces of Rock Sugar
• 8 slices of candied Kumquat or candied Tangerine
• 8 pieces of candied Plums
• 8 pieces of dried Longan
• 8 pieces of dried Figs
• 8 slices of dried Pears
• 8 cups of water
Boil all the above for 5 minutes, strain and serve. Add more water if necessary. Tea should be sweet and fragrant.
It is best to be vegetarian today (at least till the hour of the Horse 11.00am – 1.00pm) It is also a good day to visit the temple and offer prayers.
Married couples should give red packets to younger unmarried people that they meet today. Many people observe this practice for all 15 days of the New Year. It is believed that the more red packets you give out, the more money the year brings to you.
As this day falls on the day of the Rabbit, which conflicts with the Rooster, all those born in the year of the Rooster must avoid eating meat (preferable to be vegetarian for the day) and avoid antagonizing or having quarrels with the Rabbit-born.
Homes that have main doors opening to the West and Northwest are deemed most auspicious, and should host home parties on this day to maximize their luck. Good hours to have your open house today will be from 9.00am – 5.00pm
2nd Day of Chinese New Year (Sunday 26th Jan 2020)
This day is known as ‘Hoi Nian’ – being the 2 nd day of the year. This is an important day for businessmen to make an offering to their business partners with cases of oranges – this carries the meaning of “Dai Kat Dai Lei”, an auspicious and smooth year with continuous growth of wealth. It is also customary for elders to offer their friends and business partners a slice of “Lian Quo” (Sticky Rice cake) thus cementing their profitable partnerships and friendships.
Today is also a good day to pay your respects to your ancestors. This is traditionally a day when married children visit their paternal parents. Today is also known as the birthday for all Dogs, and if you are kind to a Dog today, it is believed that you will gain new friends in the coming year and receive some good news.
3rd Day of Chinese New Year (Monday 27th Jan 2020)
Today is known as the Birthday of the Argument God (Chi Gou – God of Blazing Wrath). It is believed that if you go out today, there is a high chance that many people will want to argue or fight with you. Thus it is recommended to stay home today. If you need to go out, or work, you should cultivate more patience and control your temper. Alternatively, you can carry the Anti Conflict Amulet with you. Those born in the year of the Boar should stay home, as it is a conflict day for you. This is a good day for those born in the year of the Rooster.
4th Day of Chinese New Year (Tuesday 28th Jan 2020)
Today is the day that your home deities are believed to come back from their visit to the Yellow Emperor. It is customary to give generous offerings to the home deities on this day. Suitable things to be offered include Green Banana, Dried Mushroom, Spring Onions, White Cabbage, Garlic Bulbs, Pineapples, Peanuts, Apples, Pears, Oranges, Apricots, Plums, Flowers, and Candy.
This is an auspicious day for homes with doors opening to the Northwest or Southeast, and the Lion Dance should be done for these homes.
This is a day for parents to pray for their children to study well and score good grades. The Taoist would pray to Lord Wen Chang aka Wen Chang Di Jun while carrying Spring Onion, Garlic and Celery. This is a good day for displaying the Wisdom Pagoda on the child’s study desk.
5th Day of Chinese New Year (Wednesday 29th Jan 2020)
This is the day of the Sheep, and for business owners, it is a good day for having Lion Dance along with prosperity rituals such as the ‘rolling of oranges into the office’. This is also a good day for businesses that are in very competitive markets to display the Treasure Chest Dharani in the Northwest corner of their office. Homes or offices with main doors opening to the West benefit from having the lion dance today.
6th Day of Chinese New Year (Thursday 30th Jan 2020)
The Lo Shu of the day is 9 and favours homes that face Southeast or Southwest. The day is also blessed with Peach Blossom Luck and so the single or unmarried should go to the temple and pray to Yue Lao for a partner. The day conflicts the Tiger; those born in the year of the Tiger should do some prayers at the temple.
7th Day of Chinese New Year (Friday 31st Jan 2020)
Today is ‘Ren Re’ – everyone’s birthday. For businessmen, it is good it is a day for feasting and eating ‘Yue Sang’ with their friends, and clients.
For Buddhists, this is another vegetarian day. A traditional vegetarian dish to eat today combines 7 kinds of vegetable in one bowl. (Green Peas, Celery, Spinach, Broccoli, Lettuce, Grape and Chives “Guo Choi”in a dish eaten with plain rice porridge). This ensures you will always have abundant food to eat.
This is an auspicious day for the Rooster, Snake and Ox, as you will have the luck to make your wishes come true. Homes with doors facing North and East are very lucky today.
8th Day of Chinese New Year (Saturday 1st Feb 2020)
A good day to have another family reunion dinner if you are of Hokkien origin. It is customary to eat dinner together on this day.
Homes with main doors facing Southeast, South or Southwest are especially lucky today and should invite their friends over to celebrate. However, it is important that you have the Om Ah Hum 5 Element Pagoda placed in the East, display the Anti Robbery Plaque in the center and the Healing Herbs Wu Luo in the South.
It is not a good day for the Dragon born. The day benefits the Monkey and Sheep, who should make special prayers for enhancing their careers.
9th Day of Chinese New Year (Sunday 2nd Feb 2020)
Today is the Birthday of the Jade Emperor and it is an important date for people of Hokkien origin.
Typical offerings on the midnight of the 8th day (Rat Hour – 11pm – 1.00am) includes a pair of sugar canes, Incense, 7 cups of Chinese Tea, 7 cups of Rice Wine, 7 plates of Fresh Fruits, a Roast Pig, 2 Bouquet of Flowers, and Gold Joss Paper folded in the shape of ingots is often burnt as offering.
Traditional belief says that if the morning of the 9th day is sunny with clear skies, it indicates a year of big profits, while a day of cloudy skies and rain indicates potential loss.
10th Day of Chinese New Year (Monday 3rd Feb 2020)
A suitable day for additional feasting with friends and family. A good time for renewing old friendships and making new contacts. This is because the early days are reserved more for family, and friends and acquaintances are given more priority during the next 3 days.
Homes that face South, Southwest and West will be most beneficial if you wish to gamble and win.
11th Day of Chinese New Year (Tuesday 4th Feb 2020)
Today is another good day for visitation and celebrations, as well as for starting work. As the Lo Shu of the day is 5, you should avoid overeating or drinking to excess. A most suitable day for catching up with old friends and classmates. Homes with doors facing Northwest, North and Northeast will be most fortunate today.
12th Day of Chinese New Year (Wednesday 5th Feb 2020)
Today is another good day for visitation and celebrations as well as for starting work. As the Lo Shu of the day is 6, you should pay extra attention when driving, especially if you are born in the year of the Monkey, Snake or Boar. Cultivate more patience today and avoid getting into arguments.
13th Day of Chinese New Year (Thursday 6th Feb 2020)
After so many days of feasting and eating rich food, it is good to have pure vegetarian food today to cleanse the stomach. A popular vegetarian breakfast would comprise of Hot Soy bean milk, eaten with savoury ‘Ham Chim Peng’ – (Asian fried bread).
14th Day of Chinese New Year (Friday 7th Feb 2020)
Preparations are made for celebrating Chap Goh Meh. These include making ‘Tong Yuen’ (Rice balls) – these are sweet dumplings made from rice floor rolled into the shape of marbles and filled with sweet fillings such as sesame seeds, lotus seeds, peanuts and red bean paste. The dumplings are served in a sweet soup cooked with ginger. A very good day for visiting your relatives.
Chap Goh Meh – Last Day of Chinese New Year (Saturday 8th Feb 2020)
This is also known as “Yuen Xiao” – Chinese Valentine’s day.
In the past it has always been traditional for single women to toss oranges written with descriptions of their desired partner into the river to seek a husband. However, in today’s modern practice, men are also known to perform this practice to find a suitable wife.
Candles are lighted in a paper lantern and hung up on the outside of the home and “Tong Yuen” is often eaten as dessert on the final celebration dinner of the year.
In areas where a river is not available, sky lanterns written with wishes are set free to soar into the heavens for those in search of potential mates.
Carry the 9 Tailed White Fox Amulet today will help you meet your potential new partner.
Wishing you all an auspicious, healthy, wealthy and very happy Chinese New Year and much prosperity in the coming Year of the Metal Rat!