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  • Writer's pictureZoe Yong

Shopping Dos and Don'ts for Chinese New Year

You’ve just clocked out from work, and you’re on your way to the closest shopping mall to grab dinner before you call it a night. Upon entering, you’re greeted by bold, grand, and extravagant decorations in nothing but RED. That could only mean that Chinese New Year is approaching, and it’s time to start shopping for all your needs this season.

Shopping Dos and Don'ts for Chinese New Year

What you should buy for Chinese New Year

Red in Chinese culture is associated with loyalty, success, and happiness. With that said, it is advisable to shop for anything red! Have you been eyeing a certain red cheongsam for the celebrations? Go get it! Red decorations for the house is also a must! These can include red lanterns, couplets for your front door, and even impressive paper cuttings!

The most common decoration that most people have in their house is a 福 ‘fu’, which is a chinese character that signifies good luck and happiness. With that said, you should pick one up while you’re doing your Chinese New Year shopping. This decoration item is usually placed upside down, believing that good fortune will descend down onto your homes!

A woman hanging a decoration on a door

You should also remember to do some shopping for when you have to 拜年 ‘bai nian’, or also known as visitations. Visitations are a vital part of the Chinese New Year festivities as it is a time to not only spend time with your loved ones, but to also share the blessings of good fortune with them. Just make sure you don’t gift 4 of the same items as the number 4 is carried with a bounty of bad luck! Have you noticed that the fourth floor in buildings are labelled as “3A” instead?

You may think that shopping for Chinese New Year has a strict set of do’s and don’ts, but Chinese culture is also one to not take lightly. Here are a list of items that you should not purchase as well during this festive season.

What you should NOT buy for Chinese New Year

A little interior designing brings joy to some, and if you’re thinking of spicing up your home for Chinese New Year and want to buy some new decorative items, here are some that you should stay away from as they may bring you more bad luck than good ones!

#1 Mirrors

Everyone loves a good Chinese New Year OOTD. I personally love seeing my friends and family in their new cheongsam or samfu! However, if you were thinking of spicing up your living space with a new mirror, maybe it's good to give it a second thought as mirrors tend to not only break easily, but breaking things in itself is already a bad omen. 

#2 Fresh cut flowers

A fresh bundle of blooms not only looks pretty, but it also adds a pop of colour for the house. And if you’re hosting an open house this year during Chinese New Year, it’d be a nice centrepiece on the dining table. However, fresh cut flowers are typically for funerals, especially yellow chrysanthemums and flowers that are white in colour, and they represent death.

Instead, opt for fake flowers and create your own bespoke centrepiece!

A woman hanging a chime on fake flowers

#3 Pears

If you’re on a grocery run to prepare a wok-hei cook up this Chinese New Year, or even thinking of gifting pears during your visitations, avoid buying fruits such as pears because in mandarin and cantonese it sounds like 离 “Li” and “Lei” which means to have someone leave you, or for a relationship to come to an end. Breakup season was so last year, we don’t need another one when the year has just begun.

#4 Books

Are you a massive book worm and wanted to get yourself this new novel you saw go viral on TikTok? It’s Chinese New Year, go out and enjoy your time with your loved ones and collect as many red packets while you can! That novel isn’t going to run away and it can wait to be purchased after the festivities are over…

Books sound like 输 “shu” (lose) in mandarin, and purchasing books for Chinese New Year signifies that you could be losing fortune. I for one would want all the fortune I can get this Chinese New Year.

#5 No sharp objects

I don’t think there is anyone in this world who enjoys getting backstabbed by someone who they hold close to their hearts. And while I think most people are aware of this, purchasing sharp objects such as knives or scissors actually signifies the cutting of wealth and relationships.

#6 Shoes

Shoes in Cantonese sound like a sigh, as it is pronounced as “hai”. Many believe that purchasing shoes during the festive season will lead you to sighing all the time, and who likes to hear that attitude?


Do not buy four (4) of the same things

In mandarin, the number four sounds similar to the word “death”. As mentioned earlier, you should not buy items amounting to the multiple of fours.

As you rush off to your Chinese New Year shopping spree, remember that the choices you make can impact the fortunes of the coming year, and remember to be cautious when considering items like that could potentially bring unwanted energies and superstitions into your life.

Wishing you a prosperous and joyous Year of the Dragon! We hope it will be filled with auspicious beginnings and cherished moments with loved ones.

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