Gifts to Avoid for Holidays
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As you likely know, giving presents is a significant part of culture in Asia. Understanding the occasions for giving gifts is part of the process; however, the real struggle comes in knowing which gifts are appropriate for which occasions. Whereas you might be looking for certain types of flowers to give at a funeral, you would pursue an entirely different type of bloom if you were celebrating a romantic holiday. This is just one example of the many nuances of giving presents in Hong Kong.
Gifts to Avoid Giving in Hong Kong
– Sets of 4 or 13
You may already know that the number 13 is considered highly unlucky, but the number 4 may seem like more of a conundrum. The reasoning behind this is that the word sounds very similar to the word for “death.” For this reason, it is a bad omen to give any sort of gift in a set of 4.
– Sharp Items
Giving sharp items, like knives and scissors, is not a good idea. In fact, giving such a gift implies that you would like to cut off your relationship with the person who accepts it. It can be taken as an insult.
An umbrella may seem like a practical gift; however, the word has a negative connotation that implies your family and relationships will fall apart. This is why it is best to avoid giving an umbrella as a present, as thoughtful as you might think you are being.
It is never good luck to give somebody a clock as a present. This is because the word for “clock” is very similar to the word for “funeral.” This makes such a gift taboo, as it acts as a bad omen.
Generally, fruit makes for a fantastic gift, especially on Chinese New Year. On the other hand, certain fruits are just not appropriate gifts. The pear is the most prominent example of this. The word for the fruit actually sounds a lot like the word for separation. If you don’t want to separate from the person you have given the gift to, make sure to avoid gifting pears.
– Cut Flowers
Flowers are a fantastic gift, typically; however, for Chinese New Year, do not gift flowers that have been cut. These are more symbolic with other events, including funerals. On other occasions, cut flowers are perfectly normal.
– Black & White
Black and white on their own are fine colors for gifts. It is when you combine the two that they can become a bit morbid. In reality, these colors are too much like a funeral. You may be better off gifting items in brighter colors, or that don’t have this symbolism.
Because mirrors are easily broken, it is a bad omen to give one as a gift. Plus, they are thought to be bad luck if somebody does end up breaking one.
The Best Gifts to Give in Hong Kong
There is no need to feel discouraged. There is still plenty of opportunity to find the perfect gift to give somebody you care about. Here are a few gifts you should add to the list:
Wine is a fantastic gift, especially because it is seen as a toast to health and longevity. It is especially a good idea to present wine from your region or country of origin if you are giving gifts in a business setting.
– Gourmet Hampers
Gift hampers are an excellent gift because they offer variety. Plus, many of the items have already been hand-selected by an expert who understands the local culture of giving gifts, and so you will not have to worry about accidentally selecting the wrong item.
– Fruit Hampers
Fruit is a fantastic gift for nearly any occasion, especially for older individuals. Peaches are especially a good idea, as they represent longevity.
– Health Supplements
Anything designed to supplement one’s health is a fantastic gift, and not at all considered an insult.
– Regional Items
Anything regional to your home shows that you are trying to be personal with the person you are giving the gift to.
– Red Items
Red is the luckiest color in Chinese culture, and so it makes sense to send red envelopes of cash to those you are about.
Obviously, the type of gift you give will have a lot to do with the relationship you have with this other person. It is important to consider the level of intimacy you have in your relationship with this individual before presenting a personal gift.