Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

by On Feb 8, 2016
Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

If you’re fascinated by Chinese culture, myths and rituals, you may already know that the number 8 is lucky, so invoke this number throughout the Chinese New Year’s holiday and you might enjoy fortune beyond measure.

On the other hand, superstitions surrounding this lunar holiday can be irrational, turning practical runners into timid souls fearful of violating taboos. Be bold! Use our list of 8 do’s and 8 don’ts to set your course for the year ahead and make your own luck. That's what savvy runners do anyway, right?

Dos for Runners During Chinese New Year Period

  1. Do wear light-colored shorts and tops when running and conditioning in and around Chinese New Year - especially on the first day of the holiday. Because black is an unlucky color at this time of year, you could irritate the gods who warn against wearing black - particularly if you run at night in a well-trafficked area!
  2. Do ignore the superstition that warns, “Don’t trim your toenails at night or invite bad luck.” Have you ever tried running while suffering toe pain? If you’re nodding, you know bad luck could be the least of your worries. Conversely, it’s just plain foolish to give yourself a pedicure at night when the light is dim. Turn on the lights.
  3. Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

    Photo credit: 123RF

  4. Do clean your house before New Year’s Day because it’s a holiday and you don’t know who might drop by. On the other hand, that cleaning prohibition on New Year’s Day is illogical. What if you took it to heart, tripped over something and twisted an ankle? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
  5. Do pay off debts by Chinese New Year because it’s a logical thing to do, particularly if your 2016 calendar of running activities is going to require you to come up with lots of registration fees. Further, that “don’t lend anything to anyone” on New Year’s Day admonition could backfire if a running buddy has a fiscal emergency.
  6. Do refrain from cursing, hurling insults and uttering bad words, even if your string of expletives is the result of being clumsy while exercising at the gym, taking a conditioning run or dropping a weight on your foot while you strength train. Perhaps you could train yourself to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese instead.
  7. Do give yourself permission to shed tears if you lose your race to a competitor who is not your equal, despite this superstition: if you cry on New Year’s Day you won’t stop for the entire year! Crying is an emotional release that protects you from pent up emotions that can cause ulcers, heart disease and cancer, so don’t hold back.
  8. Do wash your hair after returning from your run despite the taboo that warns you against hair shampooing on New Year’s Day. If you undertake strenuous runs and find yourself drenched in sweat, do you seriously intend to go out to celebrate with dirty hair? Tempt bad luck. It could be no worse than being shunned.
  9. Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

    Photo credit: 123RF

  10. Do use knives to prepare your New Year’s meals despite worries that you’ll lose your fortune. How else will you prepare the veggies and lean meats that are the mainstay of your healthy diet? We think this New Year’s taboo started when chefs drank too much plum wine and tempted fate once too often. Just be careful.

Don'ts for Runners During Chinese New Year Period

  1. Don’t feel obligated to consult an almanac about which road to take just because this particular superstition has been around for so long. You could become the laughing stock of your local running club if you sneak a peek at an almanac to choose your route. Ditch the almanac and rely upon GPS and Google maps instead.
  2. Don’t listen to naysayers who insist that buying shoes during this holiday portends a rough road ahead in the coming year. You’re a runner. Shoes aren’t options; they’re essential. How can you predict when your favourites will fall apart? Be brave and ignore this taboo or your only recourse could be going barefoot.
  3. Don’t use Chinese New Year as an excuse to binge on sugary foods! Of course you will encounter candies, biscuits, cakes and fattening treats everywhere you go during the holiday. But that doesn’t mean you should continue to abuse sugar once the celebration ends. Why worry about being punished by spirits when your loo scale is happy to haunt you?
  4. Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

    Photo credit: 123RF

  5. Don’t be a prankster and scare gym friends just because your Grandma insists you make good on the tradition of lighting fireworks everywhere you go so you’re protected from injury and evil in the year ahead. You’re a grownup now, so confine your adolescent propensity for firecracker pranks to the great outdoors, please.
  6. Don’t refrain from putting out garbage just because it’s New Year’s Day. Sure, taboos prohibit tossing trash on this day, but if you cooked a healthy fresh fish dish that’s so smelly, huge numbers of cats are lining up outside your window, you must dump your trash or your punishment could pale in comparison to the odour.
  7. Don’t skip a shower or you could lose friends in the name of this silly superstition. Gyms have showers for reasons - it’s offensive to use this holiday as an excuse for not bathing after a strenuous workout just because you fear offending the gods. Plagued by guilt? Compromise: don’t exercise on New Year’s Day. Problem solved.
  8. Isn’t it Time Runners Stopped Buying Into Chinese New Year’s Superstitions?

    Photo credit: 123RF

  9. Don’t throw out your favourite crockery before New Year’s Day just because this old wives’ tale says you must. Chips and dents in your dishes can’t bring bad luck and by ditching blemished cups, plates and bowls, how will you eat? It’s not like those old wives are going to buy you a new set of dishes to replace them, right?
  10. Don’t get rid of your beloved house plants because they look sad and you’ve been told that if you don’t switch them out for healthy plants bad luck will hound you throughout the year. That’s just silly. If you can bring your ailing plants back to life, what could be luckier?

This ancient culture has had centuries to adopt superstitions and we’ve barely touched the surface. What Chinese New Year’s taboo have you been unable to ignore no matter how much you try? We promise not to judge.

In these stressful and uncertain times, getting updated with accurate and useful information has never been so critical. No matter how unsettled the future feels, RunSociety will remain with you, delivering high quality news for free so we can all make critical decisions about our lives and health. Together we can overcome.

What we can do to help the situation is to keep our body and immune system in peak condition. If you are allowed or able to run outdoors, please do so cautiously but not panicky. Join our free online race to motivate you and pay tribute to our frontline heroes.

Nathaniel is a disciplined casual runner and a lover of bananas. As a columnist for RunSociety, he is always on the lookout for exciting and controversial topics that touch the heart of the running community in Singapore, often adding in his funny observations. He has embarked on a mission to start a world class running group in Asia.

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