4 Taboos of presenting a gift to Chinese

admin 2016-03-10 5591


中国有句古话:“千里送鹅毛,礼轻情意重。”(qiān lǐ sòng é máo ,lǐ qīng qíngyì zhòng )送礼物应该以“礼轻情意重”作为送礼的原则,表达对他人的感情。但是中国人的一些禁忌,一定要知道哦。否则“礼”就变成“离”了。

As an old saying goes in China, “Travel a thousand miles to bestow a goose feather/a small gift may be a token of a profound friendship”. When presenting a gift, “light gift to show deep affection” should be considered the principle. However, some taboos in China you must know. Otherwise the “gift” will turn into “separation”. (Gift and separation have the same pronunciation as “li” in Chinese. )

1.Clock 钟 zhōng 



Chinese people never present the clock as a gift because “clock” has the same pronunciation “zhong” with “end” which also means “death” . “present the clock” will be connect “bury a parent” in the mind, which is very ominous. 

2.Pear 梨 lí



Chinese people like to present fruits when visiting friends and relatives. But some fruits are not appropriate, especially the pears because “pear” has the same pronunciation “li” with “separation” which means “break up”. If you present pears to a couple, it will be very bad. What’s more, Chinese people don’t share a pear with friends or relatives but we each person eat a pear. 

3.Umbrella 伞 sǎn



“Umbrella” has the same pronunciation “san” with “dispersing”  which means dissociaton. 

4.Chrysanthemum 菊花júhuā



Many foreign friends like to present flowers to their Chinese friends but please don’t choose chrysanthemum because in China, chrysanthemum is always presented to the dead.


In addition, concerning the quantity, 4 is also a taboo because four pronounces like “death”, very  unlucky.


In recently years, with the combination of Chinese culture and the western culture, 13 is not a good number. So when presenting a gift, you’d better keep away from the 2 members above-mentioned.


Moreover there is an interesting phenomenon, that is why are Chinese people reluctant to accept the gift? 


In our mind, when someone is presenting a gift to us, we need to decline. Then the person will insist on presenting. And after several times, we finally accept the gift. And we will not open the gift to the person’s face. When going home, we will open the gift and show our gratitude to the person next time.

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