It's that time of the year again and before you go out and try to be the jolly gift giver of China, be sure to read this post. Gift giving in China is much more complicated than you could have imagined!
But before we get into the subtleties of gift giving in China, let's brush up on our Christmas vocab so you can properly spread that Chinese Christmas cheer all over the beautiful motherland!
►shèng dàn jié
►shèng dàn yè
►shèng dàn kuài lè
►shèng dàn shù
►guǎi zhàng táng
►shèng dàn lǐ wù
►shèng dàn wà
►jiāng bǐng wū
►shèng dàn kǎ
►shèng dàn lǎo rén
►shèng dàn gē
►bào jiā yīn
To properly memorize these words, be sure to add them to your handy dandy Anki deck! If you are unsure of what that is or how to do that, be sure to check out this blog post to learn about the best Chinese learning apps and how to maximize your Chinese vocab retention.
Now, onto the Chinese gift-giving LAWS!
REFUSE, REFUSE, ACCEPT!
When accepting a gift from a Chinese person, make sure you are not too hasty to accept. It is seen as a bit rude to immediately accept a gift, instead, you should refuse, refuse, then accept. This portrays the feeling that the gift is so thoughtful or so nice, that you couldn't possibly accept it. However, once you state that you can't possibly accept such a wonderful gift, give in, and take it!
A typical gift giving conversation will unwrap (gift pun intended) as follows:
Mark! Merry Christmas!! Here, I got you a gift!
Marlon, your far too kind! I can't possibly accept this.
No worries, it's just a little something.
Ah, okay okay, well thank you so much!
Okay, if you have been in China a while you know that when paying for things or taking your business cards, the Chinese will always use two hands! This is a sign of respect and shows that the receiver recognises whatever is taken is of importance, and should be handled as such. Same thing with gifts. Be sure to use both hands with intention when accepting a gift.
CLOCKS AND GREEN HATS
Whatever you do, do not buy your Chinese friends any of the following items.
Why clocks you ask? Well, a clock gift can almost be seen as a threat. It will signify the time counting down to one's death. Yup… it's that heavy, so NO CLOCKS! Unless you're the Godfather and trying to send a message…
So this one's a funny one. When someone says to you, "you wear a green hat" in Chinese (你带一个绿色的帽子) it means your significant other is sleeping with someone else!
The saying comes from a story of a woman who would place a green hat on her husband every time he would go away for a long business trip. That way her secret lover would know he was in the clear to come over for some… well, you know the rest of the story.
So please, no green hats for Christmas.
If you thought this post was helpful, definitely make sure you share it to make sure your other foreigner friends don't break the sacred gift giving laws of China!