Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gift Giving in China

Appropriate gift giving in any foreign country is tricky but not complicated once one understands the local customs, traditions and superstitions of the country. A good travel book will have culture included or one can seek out customs in a specific country on the Internet or in a book written on culture at a bookstore, or at the library.
In China, the color white and white flowers are used for funerals, many superstitions surround the numbers 4,9, and 13. Knives, scissors and sharp objects are bad luck to give as a gift in the USA and China. Sometimes in the USA, people give steak knives as a wedding present, and tape a "lucky penny" to the box to alleviate the bad luck, but in China, they do not even believe in a "lucky penny," so stay away from sharp gifts all together. Also, gifts with animals such as Foxes, Wolfs and Badgers are considered to be bad luck.
Giving a clock in China (similar to the old US tradition of covering the clock when someone dies), is associated with death and and evil spirits. US currency(cash), lavish gifts, and food are considered rude.
Appropriate gifts are books, scotch, regional US gifts, and any Company product.
These days, it is simple to do your homework before visiting a foreign country. Enjoy learning about the customs and culture of others. It's fun, and you are a better traveler for the learning!

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