Gift giving in China ~

Chinese New Year is just around the corner and some have already started the most important holiday of the year. This is the time of the year, when almost every Chinese travels back to their hometown, to see their family and hometown friends. Many shops, restaurants, shopping malls and even streets are now decorated with beautiful red decorations and it seems like everyone is ready to enter the Year of the Sheep (羊 – yang.) CC and I are going to travel to Manzhouli and celebrate Chinese New Year with his family, which I’m really looking forward to! I guess our 2 weeks will consist of eating dumplings, visiting family and family friends, and fireworks and since we got Bailey now, we will take him to Manzhouli as well, hopefully he wont be too scared of the fireworks – thankfully his mama is also pretty freaked out about fireworks (his mama is obviously me for those of you guys who didn’t realize 😀 )
We have started to decorate our apartment a little, bus since we wont celebrate in Beijing this year we have not gone crazy with the decorations. Actually, the other day the “Manager of he compound committee” ( I have no idea what its called in English) rang our doorbell and gave us a bag with decorations and hongbao’s (红包) together with a letter wishing us a happy new year and reminding us to be careful with the fireworks. Kind of nice, and now I really like our compound, I mean free decorations for Chinese New Year?! I’d been asking CC for days if we could buy decorations and all of a sudden this guy rang our doorbell 😀

IMG_4438 IMG_4440

Anyhow, as I said, Chinese New Year is super important to Chinese, and it is also the holiday where you give gifts or money in small red envelopes called 红包 (Hongbao). Some people decide not to give money and they give gifts instead, and if you are going to celebrate Chinese New Year with someone this year and you want to make sure what you give as a gift is not considered bad or rude to give I have made a list of things that you should try to avoid giving:

1. No watches or clocks for seniors.
– Clock () is pronounced “Zhong” in Mandarin, which means “the end,” even though Watch is pronounced “Biao” it is still considered a No No. It is said that since the word clock’s pronunciation means the end, giving a watch or clock to someone would pretty much be the same as you saying “Your time is up.” Which is definitely not something I would want to say to someone..
clock

2. No umbrellas or pears for lovers (couples).
– Umbrella () is pronounced as “San” and pear () is pronounced as “Li” in Chinese, both of these means “separation,” so you don’t want to give a couple an umbrella or pears, as it will seem like you want them to separate.

pearumbrella

3. No green hats for men.
– This one is actually kind of funny, as I really wanted to get CC a green hat long time ago, before I knew the meaning of it. But yea, no green hats for men because: In Chinese saying if a “man wears a green hat” it means his wife is having an affair, which is a serious insult to the man. So if you don’t want to let your friend think his wife is having an affair, avoid the green hat!

greenhat

4. No medicine for the healthy.
– Giving someone medicine as a gift implies that the receiver will get sick or even worse, you want them to get sick. Actually, even health care products are inappropriate to give to others unless they are family or close friends.

medicine

5. No shoes for non-family members.
– Shoe () pronounced “Xie” is a homonym for “evil” in mandarin. This makes shoes an unlucky item to give as a gift. I even heard that if you give someone a pair of shoes that’s too small it pretty much means “make things hard for someone

shoes

6. Gift packages should avoid the colors black and white.
– Black and white are colors that are associated with funerals and unfortunate things in China. So then if you can pick another color, for example red which means good luck in China or other warm colors symbolizing harmony and good luck.

boxes

7. Cash is the best gift of all – especially during Chinese New Year!
– If you don’t know what to get for your family or family friends for Chinese New Year, then give them a 红包 (hongbao) with money, you can never go wrong with that! In Chinese customs during Chinese New Year, seniors will give 红包’s with lucky money inside to children to express their love.

hongbao

~

Does your country have any gifts that you should not give to others? Or do you know any other gifts that you should not give in China? Please share with me 😀
And for more frequent updates, don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

~

nameee

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8 thoughts on “Gift giving in China ~

  1. I would love to get around decorating our apartment but both my wife and I have zero time to get anything done right now. On the 21st is our sons birthday and I took few days off from work just to realize that it is about the same time as the lunar new year. And now we got to know that some Chinese friends from FInland will be visiting us, ohh so much work ahead :p

    1. I never actually decorated anything for Chinese New Year before, but I felt like this year we should decorate, but there are so many “rules” for decorating, at least when you ask for the MIL’s opinion.. So if you ever decorate my advice; dont ask for your MIL’s opinion!!! >.< haha. omg, he's turning 1 already?! Time flies!! 😀 😀

      1. It sure does! Make sure you post some pictures of your little prince on he’s birthday 😀 and yeah, dont ask your MIL for advice ! haha. it will lead you to some sort of craziness ! 😀

  2. I never knew we could give gifts for CNY. Here in Malaysia, it is always 红包. And the monetary content is getting bigger every year. While it was great as a kid, I cringe now every time I think when it will be my turn to give when I get married 😀

    1. I didn’t know about the gift giving either, until my MIL explained it to me 😛 After I learnt about the gift giving I’ve noticed more and more people buying toys etc, for kids. But I guess 红包 is still the most popular one! That’s what we will give as well, when we go back to Manzhouli 😀

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