Last week, I wrote a blog post about Chinese superstitions when entering a hotel room, this week I would like to share some tips of gift ideas to avoid buying for your Chinese friend. I find that it is sometimes not easy to understand one person culture but by learning through interaction or reading will help each other to understand and live in a better and tolerable environment.
These are the gifts to avoid to buy:
Sending a clock (送鐘) in Mandarin sounds like a funeral ritual (送終). Clock also implies time is running out/death.
I do believe this also applies to watches. However, the receiver could counteract this by paying you 1p as in fact they are buying it for themselves.
Sending shoes to your loved one means you are sending them off to run away with other people or to break-up / go separate ways in a relationship.
This did happen to my friend where her ex-boyfriend gifted her a pair of shoes and within a month she went off with another boy! Oops!
This is a farewell / break up gift, for using it to wipe up the tears. Luckily, handkerchief is no longer something people buy any way!
Umbrella (傘) in Mandarin sounds like split. If you offer someone your umbrella, always get it back otherwise this will end your relationship.
5. Sharp objects
Sharp objects or pointed items never look great as a gift for it’s symbolism to severing a relationship or to cut them off your life.
I bought a pair of scissors to trim my hand bouquet a day before my wedding and I got an ear blasting from my parents. They think this will cut off my marriage so they hid all sharp objects on my wedding day including my scissors!
6. Chrysanthemum flowers
These flowers are used in funerals/temples.
I was quite shocked when I first came to the UK and chrysanthemums were used in bouquets with flowers. In much of Asia, we would never include them in a bouquet.
On the other hand, Chinese people use dry chrysanthemums to make herbal teas so chrysanthemums do not always mean bad luck.
7. Green hats
This is for men. Wearing a green hat (帶綠帽) means the man’s wife is unfaithful. People get teased if they wear a green hat, so green hats have never been popular.
It implies to look at yourself (reflect).
Mirrors are not always a popular household item. For example, they believe mirrors will trap your soul/spirit. So when a person passes away, they cover all the mirrors in the home for 7 days to avoid the mirror trapping the spirit who may come to visit their family member.
They also believe that breaking a mirror will bring seven years of bad luck.
9. Chinese pears
In Asian countries, we never visit empty handed. We will bring a fruit basket, wine or hamper. Pears (梨) in Mandarin mean ‘separate’. So you should never offer anyone half of your pear!
10. Nian guo
Nian guo is a popular dish to cook during Chinese New Year, please read here if you like to know how to make it.
Giving nian guo implies the giver is giving her/his life/year away. So this is not something you would like to give away!
11. Salted duck egg
Salted duck egg in Cantonese mean the person has passed away. So best avoid!
12. Four gifts
The number four has never been a lucky number for Chinese as it sounds like death.
So do you have any gifts that you would avoid buying?