Context: My informant is a 26 year-old woman who is of Chinese descent. She grew up in Hong Kong and lived there until she moved to Pasadena at the age of 7. Listed below is an account of a Chinese holiday called “Harvest Festival”. She detailed her experience of Chinese New Year and specific beliefs and practices her family had. She knows and loves these stories from personal experience. She knows and loves these stories from personal experience.
“On Chinese new year, you are not supposed to wash your hair or your clothes because it is thought to be washing off the good luck. You are also only supposed to wear red, even your underwear. The elders also give the younger people money in red envelopes as a sign of good luck and prosperity. On the first day of the year you only eat dumplings, second day you eat fish and vegetables, and on the third day you eat ‘longevity noodles’ because it’s supposed to give you a long life.”
The superstitious aspect of “washing good luck off” was one thing that I found particularly interesting. It is believed that one possesses a high amount of good luck on Chinese new year and you will wash it off if you wash any of your things. The connection to red in Chinese culture is present in many stories that this informant told me and I am curious to know where red ties into their history and how it came to be such a symbolic color. I love the way that food ties into this holiday over the span of several days. It almost seems as though one is preparing the two days before in order to eat the “longevity noodles”, noodles that promote a long life.