These are traditions that have been passed down in my mother’s family. These traditions are not exclusive to our family. They are practiced by most.
A popular one is the giving of ‘angpow’/red packet. Once married, prepare to give angpows (red envelopes with money) to all friends and relatives who are unmarried and younger than you.
I remember when my sister and I lived with our grandparents, my eldest aunt would tell us about some of the traditions which she observed:
Always cook plenty of food on the eve for the family reunion dinner because if you have leftover food in the kitchen when the ‘kitchen god’ inspects it, our house will be blessed with plenty to eat the rest of the year. Now, my mom would remind me that even if I am not in my own house during this period, I should have at least a pot of rice in the fridge.
Always wear new clothes during the new year and preferably in red as it is good luck. I know of a friend who will prepare new clothes for the first 15 days of the new year. Everything should be new, if you can afford it. I suppose it was a tradition from long ago when you would only buy new clothes and other personal items once a year.
Never clean house or sweep the floor after midnight on the eve of the new year or the first day of new year. All spring cleaning should be done before the clock strikes twelve. The superstition here is that if you sweep, you are sweeping away all your wealth for the year.
Always have rice vermicelli (mee sua) for breakfast on the first day of new year. It is good luck for a long life ahead (longevity).
Pay all your debts before the New Year.
My mom still practices all, as for me I will occasionally practice the first two. Basically whatever you do on New Year's Day reflects the rest of the year.
Chinatown on Chinese New Year Day
A great contrast to the night before.
Rachel's beaded mandarin orange.
Mandarin oranges signify wealth.