Happy Year of the Rat!
Welcome to the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year is all about passing on good luck for the coming year. This is why Feng Shui is vital to their culture: it’s all about enhancing harmony and balance. The last thing you want to do is give a gift that might cause bad luck.
When dealing with gifts for Chinese New Year, the rules are specific. Follow this handy guide so you don’t commit a lunar sin.
How to Present a Gift
1. If it’s not wrapped in red or gold, don’t give it. These colors symbolize wealth and prosperity. Avoid all other colors, especially white, which is associated with death.
2. The luckiest number to the Chinese is 8. A gift of $8 or $88 is auspicious.
3. When giving or receiving a gift, always use both hands. This custom also applies when presenting money, when buying something, and giving out business cards to another person. It is a basic part of gift-giving etiquette in China, as it shows respect and appreciation for both the gift and the giver.
4. When giving money, make sure it’s crisp and new. People across China spend the weeks preceding the New Year withdrawing crisp notes from the bank. It is considered a sign of disrespect to give old or torn bills.
5. When presenting gifts to a large group or a family, always begin by presenting the gift to the oldest (or most senior) member of the group.
6. It is considered bad form to receive a gift and open it immediately in front of the giver. The person receiving the gift should express his or her thanks before putting the gift aside to open in private later.
What Not to Give
1. Don’t give sharp objects, as they are thought to cut off relations with others.
2. Don’t give money in the amount of the number 4 or its multiples, as in $4 or $44, or a set of 4 objects, as the Chinese word for four is similar to the word for death.
3. Don’t give shoes. The word for shoes in Chinese is similar to the word for evil.
4. Don’t give handkerchiefs. They symbolize goodbyes.
5. Don’t give umbrellas. This word is similar to the word that means “to break up” in Chinese.
6. Don’t give clocks. The ticking of a clock is thought to sound like death.
7. Don’t give cut flowers. They are reserved only for funerals.
8. Don’t give mirrors. They are thought to attract ghosts.