Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is now officially here, and I want to ask: how ready are you?
Growing up in Richmond, B.C in a mixed household (Chinese and Scottish), Chinese New Year was like a second Christmas for me! There was a lot of excitement and buzz in my household in the days leading up (my mom would start seriously cleaning the house 3 or 4 days before and warn my brother and I not to swear or fight because if we did we would enter the New Year with a strained relationship!) and our dining room would turn into something like a glorified gift-wrapping station!
This year I want to share with you all 6 Chinese New Year gift etiquette rules. These 6 rules were very important to me growing up, so I hope they will be of great help this year to anyone who wants to show their friends, family, or coworkers some love this Lunar New Year!
1) Choose the Right Colours
When choosing a gift and the wrapping paper/bag that you will be using, your best choices are red, yellow, or gold because they symbolize wealth and prosperity. I was also taught to avoid white or black as they are associated with funerals.
Note: My mum wouldn’t always buy completely new bags – she would go searching through the closet and look for red or gold paper bags from past purchases that she could reuse!
2) Avoid Gifting in Groups of 4
The golden rule is to avoid the number 4 because it is very close to the pronunciation of the word death in Chinese.
Besides the number 4, most even numbers are a safe choice! The number 8 is considered a very lucky number in Chinese culture, and 88 is a popular number and ideal amount to give during this time!
3) When Giving or Receiving Gifts Always Use Two Hands
This is very important because it shows respect and appreciation towards the gift-giver.
4) Ensure Dollar Bills are Crisp and New
It is considered a sign of disrespect to give old or torn notes! So, it is very important that you go directly to your bank and withdraw new, crisp bills!
5) Elders First, Always.
This is a rule my mum engrained into me from a very young age, and regardless of cultural customs I think this is a super important etiquette rule to adhere to!
When in a large setting, always give your gift to the eldest (most senior) member first. And don’t forget to give it to them with two hands!
6) Never Open your Red Envelope in Front of the Giver
It is extremely rude to open a red envelope in front of the gift giver!
So, when you give a gift, do not be surprised if the person receiving it does not immediately open it to look through the contents. They will most likely express their gratitude and then put it aside to open later on – as should you!
Bonus: For extra good luck -place your red envelopes under your pillow and do not open them until after the lantern festival.
What Do You Traditionally Give?
Traditionally, Chinese New Year gifts include fruits (oranges in particular), candy or cookies, tea, nian gao (sweet rice cake) and red envelopes filled with money (often adults to children) as a gesture of good luck.
Can I Give Skin Care Products?
Of course! Just remember to adhere to the rules above (especially the number and color) and also include some traditional gift items as well!
Watch: We made a video about 5 of the most popular Chinese New Year superstitions!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Rmedy Aesthetics Burnaby