I've been living in Singapore for a few years and have been invited to a friends house to celebrate CNY. As a foreigner in Singapore (Ang Mo, Gwailo, Buleh, etc..) I'm not sure what is appropriate or not. I know oranges and chocoltes are acceptable but I'm wanting to give something more unique as thanks for this experience.
Any advice or ideas?
In general, small gifts of food or sweets are appropriate, and oranges and chocolate certainly fall in that category, as would cakes, biscuits, sweets and snacks.
If you want to give cakes, CNY Cake and Mooncakes are appropriate (Mooncakes are usually associated with Mid-Autumn Festival but are fine for Spring Festival/CNY as well - both are tied to the lunar calendar).
As far as fruit is concerned, mandarins/tangerines/clementines/oranges are particularly appropriate. In Cantonese, the word for mandarin sounds like the word for "gold" and thus associated with prosperity. They are of course also traditionally given to newlyweds to share, symbolizing a happy and fulfilling life together.
Do be aware that not all fruit is appropriate. The word for pear is similar to the word for "separation" and is thus not appropriate for a family gathering like CNY (or a wedding). Look up the symbolism behind a fruit first.
If your friends have kids, you probably couldn't go wrong with Ang Pao (red packets containing a bit of cash in them) for the kids. Just make sure you bring a few extras in case any other kids are there so they don't feel left out ;)
Once upon a time, firecrackers would have been a great gift idea (traditionally, this is because they are believed to ward off evil spirits), but not in modern-day Singapore! =)
Note: Don't hesitate to ask any Chinese friends for ideas - probably they'll love to know that you want to learn more about their culture and will be glad to oblige. almost 8 years ago
Generally MONEY is a good thing to give.
It's put in a red packet and given to the family head with TWO oranges. The amount should be in accordance to your status and your closeness to the family and it should be a EVEN number, i.e. S$20 - S$80, S$100. Never S$5, S$50 is grey, some say ok some say not.
There is a way to give pear! Pair it with a type of Mandarin oranges call "JI" the pear will become a word "ji li" which means "auspicious". In any case, if you created a boo-boo, just say something auspicious, the Chinese will beam. For example, if you drop a cup and broke it into a million pieces, just say "prosperity has arrived!" about 6 years ago
no apples, thats for funerals. no duck, since they are flat lipped and considered unhappy. avoid giving four of anything since the number four is taboo and sumbolizes death. gifts are symbolic, and everything will relate to happiness, health and fortune. money comes in hundreds or checks end in eights/nines to symbolize fortune/longevity. red is our lucky color, so candy wrapped in red is a great gift. usually around cny you will find plenty of gift options at chinese supermrkets. a popular saying is good things come in pairs, which is why you always see two lobster specials in restaurants. i kno this question is a year old but this info is good for ever! about 6 years ago
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