Background: My informant, CL, grew up in Taiwan, and speaks Mandarin, Hakka, English, Japanese, and Cantonese. Interview conducted in English over FaceTime.
Me: “Do you have any Chinese New Year traditions?”
CL: “We don’t clean after Chinese New Year. You have to clean before. It’s bad luck if you clean after, and you’re also very busy during celebrations so you don’t have time anyway.”
Me: “Do you know why it’s bad luck?”
CL: “You need to start the New Year with a clean house. If you already have to clean after the start of New Year, it’s unlucky.”
Analysis: The performance element of this custom is apparent, but I’ve also been surprised by how many customs appear to stem from logic in conjunction with belief as well. Yes, cleaning after Chinese New Year may appear unlucky, but it also may have just been too difficult logistically as well, given the volume of celebrations, feasts, and festivals taking place during the same time period as well. So it’s interesting to see it attributed to luck when it may just as easily be attributed simply to time management as well.