Chinese gift-giving and a few classic symbols

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10:32 PM January 14th, 2012

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CHINESE New Year will be celebrated on Jan. 23 this year, another long weekend for Filipinos. Photo by Ma. Esther Salcedo-Posadas, Contributor

Not all Filipinos are necessarily interested to go into details of the Chinese horoscope nor are they inclined to find out what the Year of the Dragon means.

However, many good-intentioned Pinoys wish to greet their Chinese friends or business colleagues a hearty “Kung Hei Fat Choi” and show sincere intentions.

If you have no time to study all the meanings used in Chinese culture or are not inclined to use the horoscope symbols, following are few notable classical design elements that you may want to keep in mind when shopping for a proper gift:

Lotus flower symbolizes purity

You see them a lot in Chinese gardens and paintings.  The lotus flower rises above muddy waters and is considered a symbol of purity.  For example, it could signify uprightness in the midst of a corrupt society.

Peony is for good fortune

Different colors have different degrees of importance and combining peonies with other flowers also provides additional meaning.

In general, you can give peonies or gifts with peony symbols to wish your colleague good fortune and honor.  It also represents feminine beauty and when in full bloom, the peony is also the symbol of peace.

Fish equates to wealth

This is a symbol closely tied to the accumulation of money or affluence. Aside from carp fish, there are other varieties that symbolize prosperity.  You may notice that in certain Chinese restaurants, a specific type of fish is kept and displayed by the entrance—this is for good luck and good business.

Crane is for longevity

Go ahead and wish your business partners a long life as that is considered a blessing.  In the Philippines, Chinese and Filipinos alike commonly eat noodles to wish for a long life.

Ducks are for a good marriage

Two ducks in a lotus pond symbolize a harmonious, faithful and happy marriage.  Thus, it is an excellent choice for husband and wife and often given to newlyweds as well.  Note that mandarin ducks reputedly do not get a new partner even after a mate dies.

Just remember that the Chinese put a lot of importance on symbolism and meaning.  Thus, you need to exercise a little care in choosing your gifts.  It could spell the difference between a lasting working relationship versus a short one.

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