Celebrated by many and cherished by all, the Chinese New Year is an annual, gala affair that begins on the first day of the first Lunar month. The 15-day-long celebration is filled with merriment & excitement and is marked with family, festivities, food and not to mention, impressive gifts.
While gift-giving is a significant part of the annual event, there are some unspoken rules to take note of and be mindful of. From the choice of colour to how a gift should be presented – know what matters the most while handing out Chinese New Year gifts.
Select the Gifts in the Right Colours
Colours are of utmost importance in Chinese culture and tradition as they‘re painted with different meanings. Thus, when giving a gift on Chinese New Year, be mindful when choosing the colour of the gift as well as the wrapping paper.
The Chinese consider red, green and yellow to be the lucky colours. Red symbolises joy and fortune, green symbolises money & prosperity and yellow symbolises power & royalty. So, make use of these lucky colours when giving or wrapping Chinese New Year gifts.
Do not mess up the gift-giving gesture by using white, black or blue-coloured packaging or wrapping as they are associated with the funeral.
Finding the Perfect Chinese New Year Gift
What to give could get you in trouble as many things have hidden messages or indicate something that is not a sign of prosperity or this holy occasion.
While a fruit basket makes a failsafe gift, take out the pears as sharing a pear means separating or parting ways. Furthermore, you can show your thoughtfulness with gift hampers, wine hampers, personalised gifts, e-Card or traditional decorations.
Gifting someone a pair of shoes is thought to be bad luck. In the same vein, gifting handkerchiefs is a sign of saying goodbye forever. It is also bad to give a fan, clock, watch, umbrella or sharp objects like scissors and knife sets. Each of these products is a sign of cutting off or ending the relationship. Also, scented candles and cut flowers are used in funerals and hence should be avoided as a new year’s gift.
Stay Clear of the Number 4
Another thing to take care of when shopping for Chinese New Year gifts is the quantity or specific numbers.
Gifts that are given in pairs and eight are considered to bring luck. After all, there is a saying that goes ‘good things come in pairs’. Besides, eight is the luckiest number in China. For example, a hamper of 8 food products & liquor or 8 packs of cigarettes would make a righteous gift. Also, if you are handing out an envelope, a number like 88 is the ideal monetary amount to give.
Don’t give gifts in sets of four (or containing the number 4) as it is associated with death or loss-making in Chinese culture.
Hand Out Crisp & New Currency Notes
Giving currency notes along with gifts is a sign of bringing prosperity and good luck.
When giving money as a gift, make sure they are crisp and new, as if withdrawn right away from the bank.
Giving old or torn notes is considered a sign of disrespect. Also, it is believed to not give out cash as a gift or gesture of helping someone. Instead, add one new currency note with gift items.
Hand Over the Gifts with Care & Proper Gesture
Other than deciding what to give & receive, it is also fundamental to how to give and receive. Thus, there are some basic Chinese New Year gift-giving manners you should uphold.
Using both hands while receiving and giving the gift is considered respectful in Chinese culture. So, whenever you hand over a gift (big or small), use both hands while carrying a pretty smile. Likewise, accept the gift with both hands as it is a way of saying that the giver has your full attention.
Never use your left hand to give a gift. Also, when you have received the gift, do not put it aside right from the giver’s hand. The act is considered to be casual with no value felt for the gift.
Start with the Eldest Family Member
The holiday times inspire us to treat everyone with kindness, love and of course, gifts. And the very act should begin with the eldest member of the family for he/she holds the family tree firmly.
When visiting a family, always start with greeting and presenting the gift to the eldest member of the family.
Do not move away from the front after handing the gift; speak about health, education and the festive season. Also, do not open the gift in front of guests.
So, these were some of the many considerations that go into giving Chinese New Year gifts. Take these traditions and etiquettes into account this Lunar New Year and have your loved ones accept the gift graciously.