Every culture values gift-giving as a way to strengthen relationships and build alliances. The Chinese people are no exception to this practice. But choosing an ideal gift is never easy, and there are even some taboos in countries like China. In this article, we’ll give you some useful tips on what gifts you should avoid to give your Chinese friends.
In Chinese, “giving (someone) a clock” (sòng zhōng 送钟) has the same pronunciation as the phrase “sòng zhōng 送终”, which means “attend a funeral”. So clocks or watches are often viewed as bad gifts for their ominous implication.
Nào zhōng (闹钟): alarm clock
Nào zhōng zài qī diǎn zhōng xiǎng le.
闹 钟 在 七 点 钟 响 了。
The alarm went off at 7 o’clock.
Wǒ zuó wǎn wàng le shàng nào zhōng.
我 昨 晚 忘 了 上 闹 钟。
I forgot to set my alarm last night.
2. Umbrellas or pears
The Chinese word sǎn (伞): umbrella, sounds like the word sàn (散), which means “break up or separate”. Similarly, the Chinese word lí (梨): pear, has the same pronunciation as lí (离), meaning “leave or break up”. If you give your friend or someone you love an umbrella or pears as gift, they might think you want to end the relationship between you two.
Yǔ sǎn (雨伞): umbrella
Zài xià yǔ, bié wàng le dài nǐ de yǔ sǎn.
在 下 雨，别 忘 了 带 你 的 雨 伞。
It’s raining. Don’t forget your umbrella.
Wǒ néng bù néng jiè yòng yī bǎ yǔ sǎn?
我 能 不 能 借 用 一 把 雨 伞？
May I borrow an umbrella?
3. Green hats
Never give a green hat as gift to males. In China, dài lǜ mào zǐ (戴绿帽子) is an expression that Chinese use when a woman cheats on her husband or boyfriend.
So green hat is a no-no in China almost under any circumstances.
Mào zǐ (帽子): hat
Nà shì yī dǐng piào liàng de mào zǐ.
那 是 一 顶 漂 亮 的 帽 子。
That’s a beautiful hat.
Wǒ zhāi xià le wǒ de mào zǐ.
我 摘 下 了 我 的 帽 子。
I took my hat off.
Do you know any other taboos about giving gifts in China? What about the certain “rules” in your country? You’re welcome to share your thoughts in the section below!