I’ve written a lot of things about gifts and the rules for them, but there’s always some new information, curiosities.And I post, after all, after more than 550 articles published here, I surprise myself with the oldest articles and did not even remember that I had written them.Christine’s Stuff.
Well, let’s go to what matters, the innovation of this post, is that I found some phrases in Mandarin related to giving and receiving gifts.Universally, gifts are given to express respect, gratitude, friendship, love or hospitality.But the art of giving presents in China is a bit different from the western countries, has its peculiarities and the etiquette is above any other question.
Like its millennial history, the habit of giving and receiving gifts follows a past tradition from generation to generation, and even with all the technology and progress of the past, it still remains present.A saying known to all Chinese about gift-giving:
礼 尚 往来 – Lǐ shàng wǎng lái, which means ‘reciprocal courtesy’.
The Chinese believe that what we offer to others will come back to them.Reciprocity is also considered a traditional way to build and maintain friendships.If a Chinese receives a gift, invitation or hospitality from someone, they will return the gesture when there is appropriate occasion.
And in a personal parenthesis here, I also believe in this, not only to give and receive gifts, but for everything in this life, what you throw to the universe he returns you, but let us return to China.
As I have written before, in Chinese weddings , close friends and family members tend to express congratulations by gifting a Hongbao, which is a red envelope where money is put. The amount to be placed in hongbao varies according to your relationship with the family of the bride and groom and the financial situation of who is giving the gift. Usually values that have 8 are the most appreciated and never put the amount with any digit in 4.
The general rules of giving gifts in China
- Giving a gift is considered an appropriate way of saying thank you, both to your host and to someone who has done you some kind of favor.
- When you visit, gifts such as wine, tea or something useful for the whole family are always welcome.Also, special gifts like things typical of your country of origin (in the case of a foreigner) are always appreciated.
- Traditionally the recipient should not appear greedy when receiving a gift, as a result, the rule is that he does not accept the gift the first time or the second time it is offered, and only at the insistence of who is offering, the person accepts after the third offer .So insist on handing in your gift and do not feel offended.Although nowadays, in cities like Shanghai, this has been changing a lot and accepting a gift without declining is becoming very normal.
- In China, the gifted should not open the gift in front of who gave it.That’s because, they do not like to leave the person who has embarrassed them if they do not like the present and can not disguise it.Then they usually send a message of thanks.
- The gift should be properly packed.Never use white paper because it means mourning.I’ve already written about that.Never to err, red is the secret!
- Fruits are always a very welcome gift in China and imported items such as wines and chocolate as well.
Things you should not give away in China
Wall Clock – The Chinese word for “clock” sounds exactly like “final”.And that means to them that one is desiring their end, their death.(I have said many times that Chinese are the most superstitious people in the world …)
Umbrella – means you want to break your relationship with them.
And there are some more tips than not giving here .
Tips for receiving gifts
- One should receive the package with both hands, the same gesture used to receive and give business cards.
- As I said, the Chinese do not like to open presents in front of who gave them.So, to avoid embarrassment, it is good to ask who gave you the gift if it bothers you if you open it in front of you.
- By receiving a gift, you can give a gift in return, or send a thank you message.
Expressions to use when you give a gift:
This is a gift for you.
这 是 您 的 礼物.Zhè shì gěi nín de lǐwù.
(I.e.Qǐng shōu xià
Expressions to use when you receive a gift or invitation:
Thanks for the invitation.
谢谢 您 的 邀请.Xièxiè nín de yāoqǐng.
You’re very polite.
Eur-lex.europa.eu eur-lex.europa.euNín tài kèqìle
(A tip: copy the phrase in Mandarin and put it in google translator, click the sound button, and you’ll learn how to speak it right … Years of China teach some tricks to make life easier for people.)
Have you received any gifts from a Chinese?
Have you had any ‘setback’ with gifts in China?
Tell us about it here in the comments.