Saturday, January 24, 2009
Gift giving Part 2
Food There is no doubt that Chinese love foods, this is always a good bet especially for older people.When visiting someone in person, it is always a good manner to bring a food basket containing fruits, biscuits or table wine. If he or she is a smoker then a good brand cigarettes is also fine. In the upper range you can give away food such as dried oysters, dried seafood, mushrooms or bird's nests. For individual fruit such as oranges or apples, count them in even numbers e.g. 6, 8 or 10 pieces. Jewellery or ornament Normally given in big celebrations such as wedding, new born baby, 21st birthday, 60th birthday, 90th birthday and so forth. Baby - parents like to host a banquet for their new born baby after one month of birth. Jade, gold or silver bracelet or necklace is a good gift, otherwise baby clothes. Birthday - If you know the person's Chinese zodiac sign, another hot item is a gold plated Chinese zodiac figurine represents the animal sign of the person. Wedding – jade or gold bracelet or necklace resembles long lasting relationship. What sort of gifts for festivals? There are many festivals in China, but you will most likely be invited to join a family celebration in the following festivals: Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) – this is the most important festival for the Chinese people which brings family members, friends and relatives together. It is a custom to give money in a red packet from married couple to single people or children. If you are single it is considered to be polite to bring a food/fruit basket to your hosts. Mid-Autumn (Moon) Festival – This is the day when people would sit down with family and friends to watch the full moon and serve moon cakes and other type of food. Therefore, bringing some moon cakes or food along to your hosts is the best gift you can offer.
Dragon Boat Festival – Rice parcels as big as a purse are made during this festival to honor a patriotic scholar named Chu Yuan who drowned himself to protest against the emperor. Before his body was recovered, people made the rice parcels and threw them into the water to stop any fish eating his flesh. Another saying is dragon boats were used to scare away 'water spirits' because the dragon is the god of the oceans. Rice parcels are made out of glutinous rice, pork and egg yolk wrapped with bamboo leaves which are sold in most shops during the festival. If you are interested in cooking, bring along some home made rice parcels which will surely impress your hosts. Other occasions Return from a vacation – small souvenirs to your neighbors, friends, colleagues and relatives when returning from a trip. Farewell – cash in a red packet or small gift such as a sailing boat meaning smooth sailing to the new destination.
Visiting someone at home – food basket. Visiting someone in the hospital – food plus health drinks (e.g. Ginseng) that will help speedy recovery. Conclusion Generally speaking, dealing with people from a difficult culture requires understanding. Some of the traditions have been practiced for a long time but are diminishing in the new generations. Chinese people are normally understandable in terms of culture conflict since they have over 2000 years of history and have different culture in different provinces. It is beneficial to know the customs but they do not need to be strictly followed as long as you stay away from the 'death'associations you should be safe.