VIDEO: Chinese NY customs changing

  • 10 January, 2019
  • Natalie Tso
The Year of the Pig is almost here (CNA file photo)

Chinese New Year is coming and traditionally New Year’s Eve is when couples are to spend time with the husband’s family. Custom has it that if you didn’t, it could bring bad luck to the family.  But times are changing in Taiwan.

Chinese New Year’s Eve has usually been the time when married couples would have a big meal with the husband’s family. That has been a strong tradition in Taiwan families.

But some wives want to go to their own parents’ home. One lady says that she lives with her husband’s family. There’s a 9-day vacation this year so she’d like to spend more time at her parents’ home but she’s afraid her in-laws won’t be happy about that.

Many couples have more flexibility in their New Year’s Eve plans. One woman says, “We can go to my mom’s home for Chinese New Year’s Eve.” A man says, “We can have dinner with our family any time. It doesn’t have to be on Chinese New Year’s Eve.” Some people also have to work shifts and may not be able to fill traditional expectations for the holiday. Another lady says they switch back and forth every year between their parents and their husband’s parents. So people are not always going by old customs anymore.

Some mothers in law may be open-minded and let their daughter in law go to her parents’ home for dinner. In the past, this was incomprehensible as tradition had it that if a wife didn’t go to her husband’s home for Chinese New Year’s Eve, she would bring bad luck to both sides of the family. Professor Lin Mao Xian said that a reason for the tradition is that the wife should stay at her husband’s home to help out as it’s a busy time for the family.

Nowadays, people aren’t necessarily sticking to tradition. There are no taboos. As long as the family figures out what they want to do, anything goes for the Chinese New Year holiday. 

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