Growing up in an Asian household, most of us probably have heard of the many pantang larang and superstitions that our parents, grandparents, uncles or aunties have lectured us about.
Since it is the holidays and the season of gifting your loved ones is here, let’s take note of some of the most common superstitions that could play a role in your decision-making process when it comes to gifts.
1. Watches Or Any Timepieces
In today’s day and age, watches are considered a gift that signifies gesture of love, kindness and generosity.
However, it is a common Chinese belief back in the day that it actually represents a curse!
According to China Market Advisor, when you put together the two Chinese symbols for “to give” and “watch”, it creates the word that would mean funeral or wake.
In other words, the older generation believes that by gifting someone a watch, you are actually counting down the number of days left in the person’s life.
Similar to gifting a watch, some believe that gifting shoes to their partner can be bad luck. China Market Advisor explains that this is because the Chinese word for shoes (鞋 xié) is similar to the word evil (邪 xié ).
Hence, by gifting someone a pair of shoes, in a way, you are also gifting them a ‘bad spirit’. The outcome would be that the relationship between you and your significant other will come to an end. This only applies to couples in a relationship. It doesn’t apply to close family members or friends.
According to BP Guide, in the Malay culture, gifting someone a pair of shoes is also another way of allowing the person to walk out of your life.
Therefore, it is deemed as an inappropriate gift. However, you might have seen some of your friends asking for a ringgit in exchange for them gifting your shoes. This is so it becomes a transaction rather than a gift.
3. Knives, Scissors Or Sharp Objects
Sharp objects such as knives and scissors convey a sense of danger. This is due to its sharpness.
This is because of the common Chinese saying 一刀两断 (yì dāo liǎng duàn), which directly translates to “one knife, two halves”, according to China Market Advisor.
In the Indian and Malay cultures, it is believed that by giving a friend a sharp object as a gift, you are indicating that you would like to cut them off from your life. In other words, ending your relationship or friendship with them.
However, just like gifting watches, it is believed to be okay if you take a ringgit or two in exchange from the person you are giving it to. This gives off the vibe that you are not exactly gifting it to the person but more as the person bought it from you.
So if you low-key want to end your relationship with someone… you know what to do.
There are no issues when it comes to offering an umbrella to a friend when it rains. However, it becomes an issue when you give it to someone as a gift.
Apparently, it all comes down to language. The Mandarin and Cantonese word for umbrella sounds very similar to the word ‘separate’.
According to Culture Guru, by gifting someone an umbrella, you are indicating that you would like to end your relationship with them.
It is also a terrible gift to a married couple as it indicates that you wish for them to get a divorce. Yikes!
5. Anything With The Number 4
This is a common one that we all probably already know. But if you are wondering, why the number 4? Here’s why.
The number four, in Chinese, (四 sì ) actually has a similar pronunciation with the Chinese word death (sǐ 死).
Hence, anything associated with the number 4 is considered to be unlucky.
And it’s the same with other numbers with the number for like 14, 40, 44, 4444 and so on.
According to National Geographic, it is actually a very common belief which is why most buildings like hotels don’t have the fourth floor. They usually replace it with ‘3A’ or anything else instead of the number 4.
Fruit baskets are a simple gift that anyone could gift a loved one. But, minus the pears.
According to China Daily, in China, pears are an exception when gifting someone fruits as the word ‘pears’ in Chinese (梨 lí ) sounds exactly the same for the word ‘leaving’ (离 lí).
Which means by gifting someone some juicy pears, you are asking for the person to leave or to end the relationship.
So the next time you gift someone a fruit basket, take note of removing all the pears.
Candles are not only used for decorative purposes but also for religious purposes.
The reason why it is believed that candles are considered unlucky is that it is usually used during prayers and rituals for the dead. Western culture believes that candles are also used in evocation, which is the act of summoning a spirit or demon.
The Chinese culture also mentions that by gifting someone candles, you are burning the relationship you have with the person.
8. Anything In The Colour Black Or White
So far from this article, it is clearly understood that the Chinese are very sensitive to anything and everything related to death. We don’t blame them. Most of us are too!
So, why the colour black or white is considered bad?
This is because, like most cultures, the colour black and the colour white are always used at funerals. Hence, it is associated with bad luck or bad vibes.
Most cultures do believe that mirrors are not the best idea for a gift. This is because they believe that mirrors have a tendency of attracting evil spirits.
It is also said that gifting a mirror could cause bad luck and negative changes in the receiver’s life.
Mirrors are also considered a bad omen if it were to break. 7 years of bad luck apparently!
10. Giving An Even Number In Angpao’s
There is absolutely nothing wrong in gifting someone cash money in the form of Angpao’s or Red Envelopes.
However, there is an Indian belief that it is best to add a ringgit to make the number an odd number. So, instead of giving someone RM100, give them RM101!
According to India Times, by adding a dollar to a gift sum, the gift is considered to be auspicious.
These are all just common superstitions, so take it with a grain of salt! Let us know what you think in the comment section below!