The do’s and don’ts over the holidays

Everyone new to banking has a steep learning curve. But when you live in Asia long enough, you realise the really steep curve comes in trying to understand traditional holiday-related etiquette.

  • By Taipan
  • 31 Jan 2019
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Yes, I’m talking about Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, which is fast approaching. It’s hard to miss the spirit of the festival in Hong Kong, which is covered in red decorations with sounds of upbeat, festive music everywhere you go.

But there is so much more to this holiday than meets the eye — and ear. Ask any of the locals and they will explain in great detail the hundreds of do’s and don’ts during the festival season, which, if you ask me, is a big challenge to remember.

A young banker who recently relocated to Hong Kong certainly realised that. He took to walking around with a notebook to jot down all the instructions and rules thrown his way.

Sweep the ceilings and walls — but not the floor, mind — on December 24 of the Lunar calendar (which was this week in the Western calendar): check. Have some red underpants to wear on the eve of Chinese New Year for good fortune: check. Don't pick up any scissors or knives on New Year’s day, or take out the garbage until February 9 after the celebrations are wrapped up — he made a note of those too.

And then of course, there is the etiquette about giving and receiving the famed lai see, or red packet, a monetary gift for special occasions. He tried memorising those rules too.

All that’s a lot to remember, but I must say the chap is doing surprisingly well. Now, if he only applied the same enthusiasm to his day job. Kung Hei Fat Choi!  

  • By Taipan
  • 31 Jan 2019

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