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Opposite page: the dragon dance is a well served tradition This: money is always a popular CNY gift

At Dubai Duty Free Struggling to find the perfect gift? Here are six great options to celebrate the Chinese New Year Dior Les Parfums De L’Avenue Montaigne Dhs317 / US$88.06

Ferrero Rocher T16 200gms Dhs25 / US$6.94

snivelry or tightfistedness. Of course, westerners will not be held to as high a gift-giving standard as their Chinese counterparts, but it’s important at least to try. A good way to endear yourself locally may be to give something unique from your homeland that no-one could get in China. Colours are a big part of tradition, and picking the wrong one can land you in trouble. Never wrap something in white, as it’s the colour associated with funerals. Black and blue are both no-nos, as they represent death. The best choices are red, yellow and gold – they’re associated with prosperity. Gift-giving etiquette also extends to the numbers with which your gift may be associated. The number four, for example, is normally off-limits as the way it is pronounced is very close to the word for death. The luckiest number in China, meanwhile, is eight. A double-eight is even luckier, which is good to know for moneybased gifts. When giving or receiving a gift, always use both hands. This tradition has fallen away in many corners of Chinese etiquette, but it’s going strong with gifting and signifies respect and appreciation. When it comes to cash, avoid giving people old, dirty or torn notes. Many people will spend days, or weeks, withdrawing crisp notes from the bank ahead of the New Year to avoid this. And when you do find a wad of

new yuan, make sure to give it to the oldest member of a family first. Respect for elders is a huge part of Chinese society. Shirking it is a huge faux pas. Other dubious gifts include sharp objects, which may signify a wish to cut off your relationship with someone; shoes, whose name is close to the Chinese word for evil; and handkerchiefs, which are traditionally waved at funerals and thus should be avoided. Cut flowers are another traditional funeral gift. And mirrors, which can be easily broken anyway, are a bad idea throughout Asia as they are believed to attract malevolent spirits. As much as many gifts are shunned in China, there are many your Chinese friends and family will be delighted by. Tea, fruits (but not pears, whose name is similar to that for parting), alcohol and tobacco are good gifts for friends – so long as they drink and smoke, of course. Clothing is generally preferred by senior recipients, while kids will enjoy sweets, schoolbooks and toys. A final point of note is that Chinese gifts are opened later, and in private. Do not open a gift as soon as it is given to you: doing that alone is a mark of respect to he or she who gave you the gift. Got all that? Then it’s time to party. And few festivals are marked in quite the same spectacular style as the Chinese New Year. Especially if you’re deemed an expert gift-giver.

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Dubai Voyager | January 2017  
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