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4 Taboos of presenting a gift to Chinese

admin 2016-03-10 5599

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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 

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中国人送礼从不送钟,因为“钟”与“终zhōng”谐音,“终”的意思是指“人死”。“送钟”会让老人们联想到“送终”,非常不吉利。

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

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走亲访友中国人喜欢送水果,但是有些水果却不适宜,尤其是梨,因为“梨”与“离lí”谐音,“离”的意思是“分开”。如果送给夫妻、恋人就更不合适了。而且中国人也不会跟家人、朋友一起吃一个梨,都是一个人吃一个梨。

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

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“伞”音同“散sàn”,意思是“离散”,作为礼物也不吉利。

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


4.Chrysanthemum 菊花júhuā

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很多外国人来到中国以后很喜欢送鲜花给朋友,但是千万不要送菊花,因为在中国,菊花一般是送给去世的人。

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.


另外在送礼的数量上禁忌“4”,因为“四sì”听起来很像“死sǐ”,不吉利。

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


近年来,随着中西文化的融合,“13”也成为了人们不喜欢的数字。在送礼的时候最好避开这两个数字。

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.


另外还有一个很有趣的现象:他们为什么每次都推来推去,不愿意收呢?

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


在东方人的观念中,送礼时,接受礼物的人往往一再推辞,而送礼的人一再坚持,在两三个回合之后,受礼人才会接受礼物,而且接受礼物后,也常常不当着送礼人的面打开礼物。一般会回家之后再打开礼物,下次见面的时候会再次表达谢意。

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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