Societies and diverse cultures around the world celebrate the moving into a new house one way or another.
It is not just the Chinese that does this.
Some celebrate with a house warming on the same day, some prefer a quiet dinner with the family at the local restaurant in the neighborhood, some prefer to post dozens of pictures on social media to share their joy with friends.
But Chinese customs have some very unique practices for moving into a new home.
And it can be fun too.
For clarity, the definition of move in day refers to the first day that you start living in the house as your residence. So it does not include previous visits you’ve made for renovation inspections, showing people around, bringing personal property into the premises, etc.
Do keep in mind, that you might find a lot of steps in this guide. It is your decision to make on which ones to practice when you move into the new house for the very first time.
The following items, or you might call them ingredients, should be prepared.
- Big pineapple
- Loose tea leaves
- Your favorite fruits
- Big porcelain plate or bowl
- Red packets containing dollar bills (the newer the bills the better)
2) Choose a day
According to the Chinese almanac (tong shu), there are auspicious and inauspicious days to move into the house.
Pick a suitable day and just do it.
If there is no day that suits every member of the household, then the patriarch or matriarch should be prioritized.
It would be ideal if an auspicious day lands on the 1st or 15th of the lunar month. So if you have to choose for example, between the 1st, 3rd or 4th of the month, the first would generally be the best among them.
For most people picking a suitable day is sufficient.
But for some, that is simply not enough. They need to pick a suitable hour as well.
If that is the case for you, then you have two options.
The answer would be clear if you know your own bazi.
If you can’t decide, it is generally accepted that the horse hours between 1100 and 1300 is ideal as this is the hours that have the strongest yang energy present.
Now that you have reached the front door of your new house, it’s time to get down to business.
3) Lights on for 3 days
Prior to move in day, every light in the house should be turned on for 3 consecutive days to fill up the place with yang energy.
It’s not a good idea to walk into a house on move-in day filled will still yin energy.
If you feel that this is just too obsessive, then at least go switch on the lights the day before move-in, and leave it on until the next day when you actually move-in.
4) The pineapple roll
This has no reference to pastry desserts made with dough and flavored pineapple fillings.
It literally means rolling a pineapple into the house.
Upon opening the main front door (no need to say open sesame), roll the pineapple into the house gently and aim at a direction towards the center of the house.
At the same time, call out casual celebratory phrases of good fortune and prosperity like:
- Huat ah (发呀)
- Tao pio (头奖)
- Tan dua lui (赚大钱)
The above phrases are casual language as I believe that this should be a fun affair and experience.
You could of course go with official Chinese idiom found in mandarin literature.
If you insist on using English, then some of the common phrases called out by contestants for “big money” on Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right would do the job nicely.
As we go along the other steps, the pineapple should continue to be rolled around the house.
Keep in mind that you should roll it with your hands, not kick it with your feet.
5) Enter with fresh fruits
As you enter the house for the first in this opening ceremony, every household member should carry fresh foodstuff while walking in.
No hands should be empty.
If your hands are busy playing games on your iPhone, it counts as empty hands too.
You could be carrying a handbag with one hand. That is fine. Just make sure that no hands of anyone is empty when entering.
Place them on tables. Preferably the dining table.
The patriarch, or breadwinner, or the chief person with the authority in the household should preferably be carrying a big plate with both hands filled with fresh fruits.
He or she should also be the first person to enter the house.
If you want to leave fruits out of the equation, then enter the premises carrying your most precious belongings first.
6) Open windows and doors
After placing the foodstuff on the table, open up all the windows and doors to welcome in auspicious yang energy.
It would actually be good if you had the windows opened a day before. But sometimes this is not possible due to weather, safety or security concerns.
7) Turn on the tap
The next step is to turn on all the taps, electrical appliances, and stove, and keep them operating for at least 3 minutes.
This is akin to a new student introducing himself to the class.
The house is introducing itself to the environment, welcoming auspicious chi to come in from now on.
8) Cook something
After the previous step, it is time to make something to eat.
Use the stove to cook an omelette, boil hot water for tea, glutinous rice balls (tang yuan), or just steam some buns for a snack.
Just cook something light.
This is not time to make chicken curry or chili crabs. That is a ceremony for another day.
9) Space cleansing
To rid the house of negative energy and you know what, the uncooked rice, tea and salt should be mixed, then sparingly sprinkle the mixture around the house, especially every corner.
10) Make adjustments to furniture
Ensure that all furniture are properly positioned.
For example, making adjustments to the sofa set so that it leans against wall according to how you want it, shifting furniture meant to be placed in corners are aligned properly, shifting the washing machine into place, etc.
11) Sweets on tables
To usher in a sweet long residence at the new home, put sweets on each table.
This includes side tables, coffee tables, dressers, TV consoles, etc.
You get the idea.
11) Red packets
Put the red packets containing money in places where you intend to keep money every day.
These include drawers, safes, cupboards, etc. Never leave them on the floor.
If you have feng shuied the house, then put some of them at the wealth location too.
12) Family gathering
To symbolize a happy family for years to come in the new home, have everyone gather at the dining table for a drink, some snacks, or tea with the tea leaves you brought along.
There might be some hot water from the kettle you boiled earlier anyway.
You don’t need to spend a long time doing this.
What’s more important is that the whole family spends an extended moment together eating and chatting at the dining table.
Things to avoid doing
Now that we have covered the Chinese customs of moving into a new house, let’s talk about some of the things that you should avoid doing.
There should not be any quarrels on move-in day that is representative of disharmony in the family. Not even scolding of children.
Pregnant women are also advised not to get involved on the moving in ceremony.
No afternoon naps should be indulged in the house on this day. And no resident should spend the first night outside the house. Everyone should sleep in.
While you might want to personally get involved with every task listed above, that is not necessary.
You can delegate some tasks to other household members. This will help you complete everything quickly.
However, the task of carrying in the big plate of fresh fruits and placing red packets should be undertaken by the patriarch, head of the household or main member of the family.
Finally, while I’ve listed the above accordingly, you can do them in any order from #5 onward.