AS people get set to welcome in the Year of the Wooden Horse, there are a number of myths and superstitions linked with this annual celebration to make sure that Chinese New Year 2014 is a happy one.

Each year is linked to an animal and legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality.

Those born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and good with their hands. Rembrandt, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Chopin, and President Theodore Roosevelt were all born in the year of the horse.

This year’s Chinese New Year celebrations start on Friday January 31 and there are many superstitions tied into the occasion. These include:

  • A clean home to start the New Year – one of the main superstitions the Chinese follow is to completely clean their home in time for the New Year. In particular, they focus upon sweeping the floors as it’s said that this eliminates the ‘bad energy’ from the home. It’s basically a metaphor for eliminating the old and welcoming in the new.
  • Absolutely no unpleasantries – It’s said that whatever happens on the first day of the New Year will determine how the rest of the year pans out. So, things like foul language and putting people down are frowned upon.
  • No ghost stories – on a similar note, children and adults are not allowed to tell ghost stories on Chinese New Year. This is because they relate to death and negative energy.washing-hair
  • Don’t wash your hair – a rather odd superstition the Chinese follow on New Year’s Day is the fact they don’t wash their hair. It is said that by washing the hair on this particular day, it eliminates good luck from the body.
  • Black clothing should be avoided as it is something else that relates to death. If you don’t want bad luck all year round, try to brighten up your clothes.
  • Be careful with crockery – broken crockery is considered to be a sign of extreme bad luck on New Year’s Day. So be careful with those plates!
  • Don’t cry – or you will end up crying for the rest of the year!lanterns
  • Wear red – red is considered to be a very lucky colour at this time of year. Parents even reward their children with cash given in red envelopes. You’ll also often see families decorating the home with red decorations.
  • Don’t cut anything – another superstition the Chinese have at New Year is that nothing should be cut. It’s said it will have a negative impact on your fortune and your life.
  • Using firecrackers – the myth surrounding this superstition is in the form of a creature. It’s said that a half lion and half dragon monster used to come down from the mountains to scare the humans. Firecrackers are used to frighten this mythical beast and show that the people are no longer scared.