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Feb 9th, 2016

New Year, Old Practices? The difficulty of implementing new company habits in the New Year

Xīnnián hǎo! Happy New Year! Today marks the second day of celebrations for Chinese New Year. Marked on the new moon between 21 January and 20 February, the festivities end when the moon is brightest. According to legend, the contemporary habits of New Year revellers, such as wearing red, making loud noises and setting off firecrackers, is to commemorate the scaring away of the mythological beast, Nian (‘year’). Unlike the Balinese/Hindu festival of Nyepi, which falls later in the year, when celebrators still actively work to lure the beasts with silence before scaring them away for the year, the revellers actions are symbolic. No longer fearing Nian, it was passed into legend. Instead today it is portrayed during the festivities with the traditional lion dance, narrating the story of its defeat.

Although firecrackers are now actively discouraged in order to minimise air pollution, there are many other traditions that instead of commemorating the past, are meant to prepare the family for the year ahead. According to the Telegraph UK this includes not sweeping, as it means your money will be ‘swept’ away, making sure the rice jars are full to discourage poverty, and not eating porridge as this is considered ‘poor persons’ food and is inauspicious for the year ahead.

Evidently, both traditionally and contemporarily, New Year is the favourite time to either start again or refresh oneself for an improved effort. Companies around the world, though often indifferently irreligious, still use this time to start good practices. However these well-meaning goals can quickly fall into neglect as the year wears on. The symbol of the new and fresh is a tantalising thing. However, arguably one needs to combine the optimism and symbolism that humankind has retained for the New Year, and nurture it with sustainable practice. It’s no use enthusiastically gathering the team around for an ideas workshop in the morning if by lunch-time you’ve realised that there is now no time for the apparatus that holds the company together. Meaningful change should be systemic, sustainable and multi-layered. Although the symbolic cleaning out the office is one thing, it needs significant, maintainable action in order to have tangible results.


InThink>Biz Editorial Team

February 9, 2016

To find out more about what the New Year brings, click on the link below to read our T-Thoughts article, Can we predict the future?, a discussion on the ability to predict and prepare for businesses.



Andrew Grant and Gaia Grant are the directors of Tirian, and authors of the breakthrough book ‘Who Killed Creativity?… And How Can We Get it Back?: Seven essential strategies for making yourself, your team and your organisation more innovative’.http://www.tirian.com/articles/leadership-task-performance/how-can-leadership-teams-find-innovative-solutions-to-sustainability-challenges/
Kate Bettes has the role of Executive Support at Tirian. She is completing a degree in international relations and writes on current issues and culture.



Ye, C., Chen, R. & Young, C. 2014, “Nian: when Chinese mythology affects air pollution”, The Lancet, vol. 383, no. 9935, pp. 2125. http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy1.library.usyd.edu.au/docview/1537834322?pq-origsite=summon


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