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Gifts you cannot give according to the Chinese Taboo Culture

On every special occasion, we as Chinoys love the act of gift-giving, as well as gift-receiving! The gesture of thoughtfulness wrapped and packaged in an artistic manner simply brings joy in our hearts.

In line with the 5 Chinese Gifting Traditions You Should Know, CHiNOYTV is here to list down some of the gifts that we should not give unto others according to the Chinese Taboo Culture, now that Christmas is coming!

  1. Pears

Although fruits are one of the best gifts you may be able to give for your family members, you must always make sure to exclude pears as a part of your gift. In chinese, pear (梨) is pronounced as “Lí,” which greatly resembles the word 离 (Lí) which means to leave or separate. If these are to be given to a relative or your significant other, this could possibly result in a negative apprehension about you.

2. 4 pieces of gifts

This is perhaps one of the most popular Chinese Taboo beliefs that we must avoid at all times

Have you ever wondered why some hotels do not have a fourth floor? Or how come some tables from restaurants suddenly skipped from table number 3 to table number 5? It is believed that the number four (四) represents death (死), as they both have the same pronunciation, “Sì” and “Sǐ” respectively. So better to add more quantity than to give out gifts that represent death!

3. Shoes

Thinking about buying shoes or heels for your significant other this Christmas? Think again! Shoes are considered to be something that represents the receiver walking away from your life. 

4. Mirrors

Mirrors are considered to be one of the don’ts when it comes to gift-giving. Remember the horror films we used to watch about spirits showing up on mirrors? Yes, that is exactly why mirrors should not be given as a gift! 

They also attract hungry spirits, and could possibly alter the recipient’s fate. Suppose they were to break, Chinese beliefs state that it could be a negative indication that an unpleasant occurrence is bound to happen.

5. Dolls

There are also more freaky flashbacks of horror films we used to watch that include moving, wicked dolls. Chucky, for example.

It is said that dolls are being possessed by demons, hence completely changing the nature of an innocent doll which is for the children to play with. 

6. Umbrellas

Umbrella (雨伞) is pronounced as “Yǔsǎn,” which sounds a lot like dispersing (散) with the pronunciation of “Sàn.” Typically, if you hand an umbrella to your lover as a gift, both of their companionship may soon disperse.

7. Sharp objects

If your lover is eyeing a new kitchen knife, simply purchase another product that they are interested in. The act of giving sharp objects symbolizes that the giver desires to cut off the relationship with the receiver. It may also represent bad luck if they happen to give you a knife without you exchanging money for it.

8. Watch/Clock

In Chinese superstitions, it is considered as a negative gesture to give watches and clocks as a gift. It is presumed to count down the days of the receiver, and can mostly be offensive to people of old age.

9. Red-inked pen

Avoid giving red-inked pens, yes even the beautifully engraved ones, to any of your family or friends. Red ink may also symbolize cutting off the relationship between the sender and the receiver.

10. Spiky Plants

Since plantitas and plantitos have been recently dominating the world, make sure not to send them anything spiky! Cactus, thorny roses, and anything piercing may represent you and the receiver hurting each other’s relationship.

Want to know more about Chinese taboos? Check out 20 taboos in the Chinese culture that should be avoided!

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