Custom 6: January 1 (Lunar) Spring is Officially in Action
Firecrackers are lit during the countdown to new year to drive away the creature Nian who used to scare the farmers. By the morning of January 1st, everyone, and I mean probably include your mom’s dog she walks everyday, goes out and greets everyone they know from friends, neighbors, to the bosses they usually hate. However, women who are married are traditionally not allowed or shun on for going back their original family on this day as they are considered a part of their husband's family instead of their original family.
Custom 7: January 2 (Lunar) Maiden Family Time
In a traditional and perfect world, women who have become wives are to bring their husbands and kids back to their families to see their parents. Gifts in traditional are to be even numbers, if not it would implied an unhappy marriage.
Custom 8: January 3 (Lunar) Day of the Red Dog&Resting
The common story told in Taiwan is that this is the day that mouses hold their weddings. Mouses are considered an evil creature in the traditional farming society and are hated by the public. However, on a day like wedding, human would leave crumbs and rice on the wall corner and go to bed early as their silent blessing for the mouse’s wedding. In modern aspect, most people are exhausted by January 3 because of all the staying up and the hard work and they deserve a good night of sleep by now.
Custom 9: January 4 (Lunar) Welcoming the Gods Back for Another Year
During December 24 (Lunar), the gods are sent back to the sky to report their evaluations on their duties, and ten days of vacation is all these divine creatures receive for the entire year. Most traditional families will prepare the offerings of the welcoming process during the afternoon so the gods can have an extra morning worth of vacation. Also for those born in specific years, the guilty of Jupiter will befall on them and it’s a traditional custom to go to the temple and assure the gods that this specific person has paid their dues for this unlucky year and their year would be better off now they’ve send their offerings to the gods.
Custom 10: January 5 (Lunar) The Birthday of the Money God
Five days after New Year’s Day, it’s officially over. Families are finally allowed to take out their five days worth of trash and clean out the house. Because it’s believed that during the five days if you throw trash then you’re throwing your own luck of the year away so most people try to avoid it. By January 5, these trash will officially expire from luck and turn into the signs of poor so any trash must be disposed today. The day where trash are back to being where they are, is also the birthday of the money god. Because of this, some of the more traditional companies will specifically choose to resume work on this day or the next by the time money god has fully celebrated his birthday.
Custom 11: January 9 (Lunar) Worship for the Jade Emperor
As most religious beliefs needs a main god, Asian culture also has the Jade Emperor that is practically in charge of the sky and everything human related, but sadly he's not in charge of jade or anything jewelry related. Nine being the last number in the single digit series, is set to be the birthday of this Jade Emperor. There’s numerous classical literature that spoke about how this birthday revive the world and is an important turning point in the traditional culture. The entire family needs to dress formal and open the house door, in age descending order lit their incense and worship the sky because he the deity will be there waiting. In reality, this is the day for all the kids who usually don’t have treats because adults will prepare a lot of exceptional food and those belong to the kids after worshiping.
Custom 12: January 15 (Lunar) Lantern Festival
It’s all another miniature new year celebration because it marks the end of all the celebration customs and announce the returning to normal daily life. In Lunar calendar aspect, this would be the first full moon of the year. During the Chinese Tang and Song dynasty, the lantern and sweet rice balls start to populate in the society and has hence become a custom too these days. There are many different legends in terms of how the sweet rice balls got invented or populated; however the truth is that having everyone in the family together to eat rice balls that signify unification is form of farewell before the family is scattered out again.
With this many customs and dates within the entire Lunar New Year celebration, it's hard for tourists or visitors to understand this holiday as easily as a Thanksgiving dinner and Black Friday shopping. But taking your time to dig and explore the meaning will reward those who want to know the layer of Lunar New Year they would've never known.