A ton of onions for your ex? Chinese gift taboos

David Ho   |   June 3, 2020

Heart broken Chinese girl sent a ton of onions to her ex-boyfriend after he broke up with her.

I mean, who doesn’t like gifts. But ……

Is it a good idea to give onions as a gift in China? What are the taboos in China when it comes to gifts?

Today we’re going to tell you what you should not give your Chinese friends as gifts and why.

There are many things that are taboos because of their pronunciation in Chinese.

NO.1 clocks & watches

Clock in Chinese is zhōng(钟), and the verb “to give … as a gift” is sòng(送). So giving a clock as a gift is sòngzhōng(送钟) in Chinese, which has the same pronunciation as sòngzhōng(送终), and sòngzhōng(送终) means attending a funeral or saying goodbye to some one who had passed away. That’s why it’s not a gift people would be happy to receive. 

NO.2 umbrella

Umbrellas in Chinese is sǎn(伞) and the pronunciation is very similar to sàn(散) which means break up or fall apart. And it’s not something people like to experience, that’s why umbrellas are not a popular gift in China.

NO.3  pears

Pear lí(梨) has the same pronunciation as lí(离) which means to leave, to be away from. And people do not like to say goodbye, so pears should not be included if you’re thinking of bringing fruits to your Chinese friends.

NO.4 shoes

Shoes xié/xiézi(鞋子) sounds the same as xié(邪) which means evil in Chinese, so it’s not a good idea to bring evil things to your friends.

NO.5 chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum jú huā(菊花)is the flower for people who have passed away. So people believe that giving chrysanthemum as a gift can bring bad luck to the person who receive the flowers. 

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