Revealing The Reasons Not To Wear Monochromatic Clothing For Chinese New Year From The Yin Yang Philosophy
Illustration (Source: Unsplash)

JAKARTA - There are a number of taboos for the Chinese community when celebrating Chinese New Year. One of them cannot wear monochrome or black and white clothes. The recommended color of clothes and decorations when welcoming Chinese New Year is red or yellow. Why is that?

In general, more or less we already know that the colors black and white are symbolized as expressions of grief. Even though during Chinese New Year, all people who celebrate should be happy. For this reason, they must avoid black and white clothes.

Meanwhile, red clothes and decorations will be suggested when welcoming the Chinese New Year. Therefore, red is interpreted as bringing good luck. So where did the meaning of color in Chinese culture come from?

Yin Yang philosophy

As explained on the Virginia Commonwealth University website, in the Chinese tradition the Yin and Yang philosophy is known as a form of the fundamental balance of the universe. Yin can be viewed as female, dark, cold, passive and death. Whereas Yang is seen as male, bright, warm, active, and alive.

Chinese society strongly believes that the universe needs a balance of yin and yang. There needs to be an effort to reconcile the two. Furthermore, the Chinese believe that everything under the heavens can be classified under five elements, namely gold, wood, water, fire, and earth.

Based on the Yin and Yang philosophy, balancing the five elements is at the heart of Chinese thought. The Five Elements can interact productively or counterproductively.

What is productive is when there is a combination of water and wood, wood with fire, fire with earth, earth with gold, and gold with water. Meanwhile, the combinations that are considered counterproductive are soil with water, water with fire, fire with gold, gold with wood, and wood with earth.

Each of the five elements corresponds to a color that has its own symbolism for the Chinese. The red color is symbolized as fire which comes from the Yang element. Yellow is earth with Yang element, green is wood with Yin element, white is gold with Yang element, and black means water with Yin element.

Meaning of colors

The color red in Chinese philosophy represents luck which is associated with warmth, life. Apart from being a fire element, red also indicates luck and happiness.

For this reason, the color red becomes sacred and vital at major Chinese celebration events, including the Chinese New Year. In China, the color red serves not only to express joy, but also to ward off evil influences.

Then the white color, which is prohibited during Chinese New Year, is associated with the golden element and is synonymous with grieving. White is considered the opposite of red and is used to express sadness. For the Chinese, white is the color of funerals and death.

Meanwhile, black is related to the water element, symbolizing darkness. In China, black is considered the color of bruises, and is therefore a sign of evil and very unpopular.

Then for yellow, it is related to the earth element which symbolizes growth. This color is closely related to power because it is the exclusive color for imperial China.

Finally, green and blue are associated with wood elements. both symbolize growth and are used to represent longevity and harmony. When combined, green and red symbolize growth and luck on Chinese New Year.

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