Gung Hey Fat Choy (a New Year greeting meaning “May you become prosperous.). The year of the Rabbit starts on February 3rd according to our Western calendars. While the western world celebrated year 2001 according to Gregorian calendars, the traditional Chinese are celebrating the coming of the 18th year in the 78th cycle of a repeating 60 year calendar. The long and short means that this is Chinese new year 4638 since the introduction of this calendar in 2637 B.C.
Well, now that everyone, including me, is thoroughly confused I can get to the cleaning bit. My wife is Chinese, and I can say there are more traditions, superstitions, and things to do with ‘luck’ than I can ever hope to remember.
The big one for us on Chinese New Year is to do with cleaning. The last week or so of the Chinese calendar is spent cleaning the home. Not just vacuuming and dusting, but heavy duty cleaning. We are washing away the last year, getting ready for a fresh start.
That seems reasonable, but part of the reasoning is that when the new year arrives, you should NOT do any cleaning. This is so you don’t sweep out any of the good luck that arrives with the new year. I thought wow! This is a great way to start a new year, considering when hung over, the last thing you want to do is scrub the toilets. My glee subsided when I was caught on a bit of a technicality. Apparently bathing, brushing teeth, doing dishes, and normal regular cleaning are acceptable, but just nothing ‘extra’.
I know the ‘extra’ thing is subjective, but it is nice being held to your own opinion of what is acceptable. We have even carried over this ‘tradition’ to the western New Year, and on the 1st of January our duster and vacuum stay in the linen closet, right where we put them at the end of December.
By Ken Pukanich