Who’s wearing Red? We all should be~

For Chinese New Year, beyond the buying of new clothes, giving of red envelopes and eating a lot with your family and friends, there’s the more contemporary tradition of wearing red underwear.

Men in particular – red underwear is one of the most popular gifts for sweethearts to exchange around Chinese New Year. Every winter, red underwear decorated with gold embroidery, usually illustrating the pertinent zodiac animal for that particular year, goes on sale in China’s stores.

Who Should Be Wearing Red?
The Chinese Zodiac employs a cycle of 12. There are 12 animals in the zodiac and each year welcomes a new animal. The cycle goes like this: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. People are born under one sign and will run into their sign again every 12 years. So it’s important to be aware of your benming nian (本命年), or the meeting of one’s zodiac year.

Why Do They Need To Wear Red?
One would think that your animal year would be a good one. But, Chinese traditional belief is that your benming nian (your animal year) is going to be full of bad luck. So if it’s your year, you need to take a few precautions to ensure that your year is not a bad one.

To ward off any dangers that might befall you it’s believed that it helps to wear the color red. Red is one of the luckiest colors in Chinese traditions, standing for loyalty, success and happiness. You see red all over the place during traditional Chinese festivals: red lanterns, red envelopes, red paper hangings ornammented in gold.

Why Do We Need To Wear Red?
If you believe in this stuff and you’re really traditional, you should wear red every day, all year long. How do you ward off the bad luck but maintain your own sense of style? Red underwear is the answer!

Red underwear is an easy way to protect yourself against the hazards of benming nian and the regular hazards of Life!

2 Comments on “Who’s wearing Red? We all should be~”

  1. jeandeberg says:

    Your blog is often instructional: I was unaware of the Chinese tradition of giving red lingerie as proof against the potential bad joss of the coming year until just now. Though given what the previous two years have brought, we might all have been wise to paint ourselves crown to toe with red woad the past two Decembers like the Druids. (Though I think they favored a different color) But I’m also recalling the Italian Feast of St. Stephen which falls around the first of September and so serves as an end-of-summer observance not unlike our Labor Day, and a holiday on which Italian men also give red undies to their SOs. Tradition holds that St. Stephen was the very first Christian martyr (which any survivor of Catholic grammar school can tell you), accounting for the choice of color. Some ancient trans-global confluence of tradition and myth, perhaps? Maybe. But maybe, too, men just like to give elegant and sexy underpinnings to the women they love. Remember what Dianne Keaton said to Woody Allen when he gave her a birthday gift of black lace unmentionables in “Annie Hall.” “This isn’t a present for me; it’s a present for YOU!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • dievca says:

      Hah! And you instruct me right back! OK, I had 8 years (plus an additional 4 in College) of Catholic Education and I am woefully unknowledgeable about the Catholic Saints. I must not have been paying much attention. I was kinda “spacy” as a kid. XO


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