Image courtesy of Baidu
Chinese New Year is all about family. Reunion dinners are held and the younger generation visits the older generation. No wonder the celebrations lasts around two weeks. How else are you going to be able to visit your extended family?
When visiting relatives during this period, it's important that you don't rock up empty handed. It's a bad look and a sign of disrespect. You must come bearing gifts. And with the art of Chinese New Year gift giving being so complex, to make things a little easier, here's a list of three appropriate gifts to give when visiting relatives over the Chinese New Year period.
These are a very common gift to bring when visiting relatives. Many Asian supermarkets and Asian fruit vendors will have hampers prepared during this season as they are a very popular gift to bring. Then again, it's not compulsory to buy a hamper – simply picking a bunch of nice, fresh fruit will also suffice.
Image courtesy of www.leonsfruitshop.co.uk
During the New Year period, you'll see a number of specific types of Chinese candies and snacks become available. These include (but aren't limited to) candied lotus roots, candied lily bulbs, melon seeds, candied coconut and numerous others. There are different meanings of good fortune behind each one of these items, which is why they make a great and popular gift to bring when visiting relatives. In most cases, the relative that you're visiting will have a candy wheel setup and you'll just need to buy these different types of candies in individual packs to keep filling the wheel up.
Chinese Candy wheel. Image courtesy of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_candy_box
You can't go wrong with a nice box(es) of tea. Tea is an integral part of Chinese culture and is considered one of the bare necessities of daily life. If you're not sure of what to bring when visiting a relative, tea is often a safe bet. It's probably best to find out what tea your relative enjoys (if they're Chinese, chances are, they'll have a favourite type of tea). Some love red (black) tea, others prefer oolong or green tea. Some people can't take green tea as it upsets their stomachs. Pu'er usually makes for a great gift because of the way they're usually packaged as nice big cakes. Even if the relative doesn't enjoy drinking pu'er tea, they'll still be able to appreciate it as a gift. Be careful though as prices for pu'er cakes can vary greatly and more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better tea. Be sure to source pu'er tea from trusted vendors.
Example of a Pu'er tea gift box
Sharing is caring
What do all these gifts have in common? They're easily sharable. The idea is, when you go over to your relative's place for a visit and present them with your gift, they would serve some of it back to you and anyone else who's over for a visit. Chinese culture is very much about sharing, reciprocal respect and courtesy. So if you need to visit a relative this year during the Chinese New Year period, be sure to select the freshest fruits you can; pick out packets of the best Chinese candies or buy some great quality tea – because chances are, it'll be served back to you.