(Featured Image © STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese New Year is made up of a rich fabric of symbols, traditions and superstitions designed to influence the future. With a cultural heritage that spans more than 5,000 years, it’s a 15-day celebration filled with subtle nuances and relationships, many of them involving food. In Chinese tradition, by observing practices that are part faith, part folklore and part custom, you can encourage happiness and wealth into your life. It does in a profound sense add to the wellness of your psychological being.
We asked around and listed down a few common superstitions related to cars that some Singaporeans believe in, and we find out the reason behind these beliefs too. Many superstitions for cars for Chinese New Year are actually applied from existing Chinese superstitions and beliefs people have from their home, and especially for the New Year.
1. Have something red in the car
The colour red is considered to be the ultimate luck bringer at this time of year. Some would place red envelopes, also known as ang bao or hong bao, in their car, preferably with a huge note (Singapore’s biggest note is now $1,000; we used to have $10,000) said to bring about a big windfall, and more prosperity and luck for the year. If you are intend to do this, our recommendation is to not place the red envelope too visibly, obviously to prevent tempting car thieves.
2. Place a pair of oranges on the dashboard
Through the play of words and on colour, the Chinese associates the gift of oranges and tangerines as a symbol of good luck. Tangerines in Chinese, 橘, sounds similar to the word “auspicious” or “lucky” in Chinese, 吉. A popular phrase to offer during Chinese New Year (especially to businesspeople) is 大吉大利, which expresses the wish for an abundance of fortune and profits; and 事事大吉 (lots of luck to everything you do). And oranges symbolise riches and good fortune because of their “golden” colour.
So by placing a pair oranges and/or tangerines on the dashboard, it brings the owner of the car good luck and prosperity, and at the same time shows that the owner of the car is looking forward and ready to welcome the New Year. Also, of course, it makes a rather good looking decoration, adding on to the overall CNY mood.
During Chinese New Year, tangerines and oranges are often exchanged among families and friends during visiting. So just in case you forgot to bring along a pair, you can just grab them off your dashboard.
3. Avoid using black cars
While red and gold are popular colours for luck, black is considered to be an inauspicious colour that is usually associated with mourning. Some Chinese avoid using black cars during Chinese New Year for fear that the inauspicious colour brings about bad luck, just like how some avoid wearing black clothes during this festive season for the same reason. If your car is black in colour, counteract it by placing something red in your car and a pair of oranges.
4. Don’t drive a car with “X” or number 4 in the number plate
More superstitious and traditional Chinese may find the number 4, 四 (sì), inauspicious as it bears the same tone as “death”, 死 (sǐ), in the Chinese language. The letter “X” in the number plate should be avoided as it carries a negative connotation which carries a meaning that whatever things the driver do will be unsuccessful, i.e. “crossed out”.
5. Clean the car – inside and out – before the New Year
Spring cleaning is done to a house before the New Year to get rid of any bad fortune to make room for good luck for the New Year. Spring cleaning has to be done for your car for the same reasons too! It is recommended to get your car cleaned up the day before as it is believed that sweeping and cleaning during the New Year will sweep good fortune away. Give your car a good polish while you are at it and put the shine back for a “shining” New Year.
6. Avoid placing any sharp objects in the car
Keep all sharp objects from sight and not to use them on the first day of the New Year as using knives or scissors on that day signifies cutting off one’s fortune.
7. Open car windows on New Year’s Day
Some believe that an open window on the first day of the New Year will bring good luck to the house. Imitating that belief, opening windows of the car will also bring good fortune into the car for the owner. So go green on the first day, don’t use the air-con and open all windows, and get good luck for the whole year.
8. Throwing Change under the Seat of a New Car
This superstition is not as common though it could be very practical! The friends and family of the driver will throw spare change onto the floor of the car to bring luck to the driver. The tradition may have started as a sign of prosperity or good luck but recent interpretation means that if the driver runs out of change for their fastfood drive-thru, they can always reach down and find some extra change.
Have we missed out any superstitions that you know of? Write them in the comments section below to share them with us!