Weddings

Chinese Wedding Gift Ideas

Appropriate and customary gifts for a Chinese wedding

By Cynthia Myers

Chinese wedding gift envelope
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A traditional Chinese wedding is rich with symbolism, color and pageantry. Though most Western wedding gifts would be happily accepted by the newlyweds, you may want to give a gift more in keeping with Chinese tradition. Many symbols, colors and numbers have special meaning in Chinese culture. Add to the significance of your gift by choosing items featuring the most auspicious symbols.

Money

Money, known as Li Shi, is the most popular and appropriate gift given at Chinese weddings. Present cash or a check to the couple in a red envelope. The envelope may also include artwork or writing with wishes of good luck to the couple. You can purchase special Li Shi envelopes at Asian markets.

Red

Red is the color of good luck and happiness in Chinese culture and figures prominently in traditional Chinese weddings. If you want to give a lucky red gift, consider a red teapot, red appliances or red dishes. Avoid gray, black or dark blue items: These colors are associated with death and bad luck.

Sets

Don't give items in sets of four, since the word for "four" in Chinese sounds like "death." In China, sets of dishes come in fives to avoid the bad connotation of the number four. Eight, on the other hand, is a very lucky number in China, so you may give sets of eight plates, eight wine glasses, eight coffee mugs, etc. Also avoid items in sets of seven. But feel free to give anything in a set of nine, since nine is another lucky number.

Good luck

You can't go wrong with items made of jade, which represents health, strength, and protection. The dragon, symbolizing the groom, and the phoenix, representing the bride, are popular symbols used in Chinese weddings. Dishes, tapestries and artwork with these symbols make appropriate gifts. Cranes, which mate for life, symbolize fidelity and commitment, so any item picturing cranes would be an auspicious gift. Give gifts with pictures of carp, since carp are considered symbols of prosperity. Don't give the couple a fan, since the word for "fan" sounds like "disperse," which does not bode well for a new marriage.

About the Author

Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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