Chinese New Year's Gift-Giving Rituals You Should Know

Discover how the Chinese New Year celebrates with gift-giving traditions that bring joy and luck to the festivities.

The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, is a vibrant and culturally rich celebration. 

As per the Royal Museums Greenwich, It marks the transition from the old to the new, ushering in good fortune for the upcoming year.

China Highlights emphasizes that in 2024, the spotlight is on the Year of the Dragon, symbolizing strength, power, and success. There’s a touch of Wood Dragon energy, reflecting calmness, loyalty, and reliability.

What do the time-honored traditions of gift-giving look like during this holiday season?

READ ALSO: Flavors Of The Orient: Where Chinese Tradition And Innovation Meet 

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Bai Nian Time: Greetings and Good Wishes

First and foremost, it’s Bai Nian time. 

According to TimeOut, the initial ritual during Chinese New Year involves bai nian, where people greet each other and exchange wishes for luck. 

The tradition extends to the exchange of mandarin oranges, symbolizing good luck, and the giving of red packets containing an even amount of money. 

Unmarried adults and children eagerly anticipate these red packets, presented by married family members and friends in exchange for wishes of good health and fortune.

Photo by Jacob Buchhave via Unsplash

Choosing the Right Gifts

Travel China Guide advises choosing Chinese New Year gifts carefully, steering clear of items with negative connotations in Chinese culture.

Proper New Year Gifts:

– Liquor

– Cigarettes

– Tea

– Fruits

– Healthcare Products

– Red Envelopes

Photo by Angela Roma via Pexels


– Clock: In Chinese culture, the word for “clock” sounds similar to “end,” suggesting death, making it a taboo gift.

– Umbrella: The word for “umbrella” sounds like “split,” symbolizing separation, making it an inauspicious gift, especially for couples.

– Shoes: The homophone for “shoes” is “evil,” associating them with negativity and potential harm to relationships.

– Pears: Symbolizing separation, especially in relationships, pears are best avoided in festive gift-giving.

– Sharp Objects: Knives, swords, and scissors imply cutting off relationships, so they’re best left out of the gift options.

– Chrysanthemums: Associated with death and funerals, these flowers carry a somber meaning during the festive season.

Selecting the Right Colors: Symbolism Matters

China Highlights emphasizes the significance of color when choosing or presenting a gift during Chinese New Year. 

Opt for vibrant colors such as red, yellow, and gold, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. Steer clear of white, associated with funerals, and avoid black or blue, both synonymous with death.

Photo by RDNE Stock project via Pexels

Gifting Etiquette: The Art of Giving Wholeheartedly

Good Ordering stresses the importance of using both hands when giving or receiving a gift, especially red envelopes. 

This signifies a wholehearted gesture and a genuine blessing. Remember, the recipient should avoid opening the red envelope in front of the giver.

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Respecting Tradition: Honor the Elders First

Vivid Chinese reminds us to begin the gift-giving ritual by presenting a gift to the oldest or most senior member when offering money to a large group or whole family. 

This gesture of respect and tradition adds a touch of familial harmony to the celebrations.

Photo by Angela Roma via Pexels

In the Spirit of Tradition

As you dive into the festivities of the Chinese New Year, keep these traditions and nuances in mind while spreading joy and good fortune. 

Happy Year of the Dragon, filled with strength, power, and success!

Banner photo by RDNE Stock project via Pexels.

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