Whether you are opening a new retail store or starting a new office, different cultures have different rituals that are conducted to welcome good luck for the new business.
Chinese customs don’t just have guides on moving into a new house, but also how a business opening ceremony should be conducted too. And it’s purpose is to usher evil out of the premises and invite good luck in.
Whether you call it an office warming ritual, opening ceremony or outdated superstition is immaterial.
What is being referred to is the activities you undertake before a business officially opens for business operations, or when moving into new office premises.
Here is a step-by-step guide on the Chinese customs of business opening ceremonies.
If you are the business owner, you will want to prepare the “ingredient” list yourself instead of leaving it to an employee who might make mistakes as they simply don’t feel as much for the company as you.
And if you have been tasked by the boss to prepare this, then you’d better not make any mistakes!
The following items need to be prepared:
- Charcoal stove
- Red banner
- Black paper
- Cloth… a lot of it
2) Choose a day and time
Ideally, you’d want to consult a date selection expert to choose an auspicious day and hour to conduct the ceremony.
This is something that I am ill-equipped to answer here.
If you want to do this yourself, then read up these following articles to familiarize yourself with what factors has to be taken into account.
If you are flabbergasted with that list of articles, it’s not unusual.
That’s why I suggest that you hire an expert to help you with date and time selection.
If you simple don’t want to go into such details and just see the opening ritual as a token protocol to undertake, then pick your favorite day from the tong shu, go with the hours between 1100 hours and 1300 hours as this are the hours that are generally considered to have the most yang energy.
Now that you have the items prepared and the date decided, it’s time to get down to business.
3) Seal off the premises
1 hours before the actual ritual itself, all windows need to be closed and covered with cloth. The alternative is to use black paper instead.
Close the front door. The office or shop would be in darkness.
This is so that the space would be able to “reboot” itself and start anew.
Then hang the red banner above the main entrance covering up the company signboard.
If you have ever brought symbolic items back from the temple after getting them blessed, you might have wrapped the items in red paper on the journey home and only took it out once you reach your house.
The reason for this practice is to prevent the item from “seeing” and absorbing negative energy on the way home.
The idea for the red banner over the the sign board is the same.
4) No live beings
All personnel should leave the premises. You can ask everyone to go for an early lunch and come back during the time of the ceremony.
With the exception of fishes, all pets should also vacate the place.
All electrical outlets and power points should then be switched off.
Even the fridge. But if you decide to “forget” about the fridge, I won’t tell.
5) Starting the fire
When the time that you chose is approaching closer, it’s time for the business owner to start the fire in the charcoal stove.
Traditionally, charcoal stoves are used for this phase of the ceremony.
But times have changed.
I’ve seen people use portable gas stoves, bunsen burners, and even solid fuel.
You are free to make your own choices in life. But I’d stick to the old stone stove with charcoal if possible.
The owner will oversee the fire, and fan it if necessary, until the charcoal turns red.
The brighter the red the better.
6) The right time arrives
At the time that is selected, the stove with red charcoal should be placed at the center of the main entryway to the premises.
This should be done by the boss.
After which, the boss would walk over it like crossing over a brick on the road. Start with the left foot, followed by the right.
All employees would then follow suit closely behind.
Guests and friends who are invited to the ceremony do not have to take part in this act.
7) Enter the office
The red banner is taken down revealing the signboard, and the main door is opened by the owner.
Once the boss enters the property, he or she should immediately proceed to remove all the cloth covering the windows to allow yang energy to enter at the auspicious timing.
This does not have to be the sole job of the owner and employee who have followed behind him after entering the office can help.
At the same time, all lights can now be switched on and all power points can resume power.
8) No one leaves the office
For the next hour, no employee of the company should leave the premises.
This include the owner.
During this one hour, nobody should be giving anyone else a scolding or talking down.
You can still order people around as you are the commander. But it’s not advisable to give someone a dressing down during this hour.
Practice a little restraint. Be patient. A scolding can wait for an hour.
This is to symbolize unity between colleagues and staff in the company.