Chinese Gift-Giving: What Not to Buy

When it comes to presents, there are certain gifts that are forbidden to give due to different reasons. It may be because of the pronounciations, symbols or meanings, etc. Below are eight gifts that are inappropriate to give as gifts in Chinese culture.

 

1. Clocks 
  Clocks of any type should be avoided because 送鐘 (sòng zhōng, send clock) sounds like 送終 (sòng zhōng, the funeral ritual). Clocks also symbolize time is running out; therefore, the end of relationships and life are the messages that are sent when a clock is given as a gift.

2. Handkerchief
   To give handkerchiefs (送巾, sòng jīn) sounds like 斷根 (duàngēn), a farewell greeting. This gift is especially inappropriate for a boyfriend or girlfriend unless you want to break up.

3. Towels
  Towels are usually given out at funerals, so avoid this gift because it brings sad memories of funerals and death.

4. Umbrella
Offering your friend an umbrella may seem an innocent gesture. However, it means you want to end your friendship with him or her. If it is raining and you are worried he or she will get wet, it’s better for both of you to huddle under your umbrella until you reach your friend’s destination. Then, take the umbrella back home with you.

8. Shoes, Particularly Straw Sandals
Giving shoes 送鞋子 (sòng xiézi, give shoes) sounds similar to break up. Also giving two shoes sends the message that you want the person to go his or her separate way; thus, ending your friendship.

 

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