CNY Day 6: Sending Poverty Away 送穷

During Chinese New Year, it is considered bad luck to get rid of anything between the 1st through the 5th day of the New Year's celebration because luck and fortune might be thrown out at the same time. However, after the “broken fifth day,” this taboo will be lifted. People then collect all the trash that has been piled up throughout the New Year celebration and dump it all at once, called 送穷 (sòng qióng, sending away poverty). Usually falling on the 5th or the 6th day of the lunar year, it is also associated with the general wish for an abundant and wealthy new year. Different regions in China have different traditions. For instance, some people place a little paper puppet outside the door who is supposed to kick Poverty out the door. How did this day come about? One of the legends tells the story of a prince – the son of the ancient emperor Zhuan Xu. He was only willing to wear rags and eat coarse grains. Even when offered new clothes, he would not wear it until he burnt a hole in it. People called him the “son of poverty.” After he died, people buried him, claiming the day as one to send away the son of poverty. Few people know the story now, but the wish to be far from poverty and to welcome the new year with hope and wealth is passed along through the generations. After sending away the poverty and welcoming the God of Wealth, now it is also the time for shops to reopen for business. The new year has come with brand new prospects.


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