Traditional Chinese Birthday Gifts

Written by aaron marquis
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Traditional Chinese Birthday Gifts
The Chinese view the colour red as a sign of happiness. (Chinese building image by Bohanka from Fotolia.com)

The Chinese culture is rich with tradition when it comes to birthday celebrations and gifts. Traditional Chinese birthday gifts celebrate life, health, longevity and happiness, and are intended to mark important milestones in a person's life. Though most gifts are accepted with open arms by the person celebrating the birthday, there are some gifts that will make the occasion extra special.

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Baby Birthday Gifts

Newborns are celebrated in Chinese culture as being very important to the cycle of life. Though the initial birth is very important, as well as every yearly anniversary of the birth date, the Chinese do not see these dates as being nearly as important as the one-month milestone. At the age of 1 month, babies receive gifts of eggs, money, noodles and buns. Typically, the food items given to the baby are dyed red, a colour that represents happiness to the Chinese. The eggs, when given to the baby, are intended to represent life. When money is given to the baby, it is usually wrapped in a red tissue paper.

Special Birthdays

According to Chinese tradition, the 60th birthday is an extremely important occasion. After 60 years of life on earth, the Chinese believe that the life cycle starts again. This belief stems from the Chinese calendar and its lunar cycle. Every 60 years, according to the Chinese, the lunar cycle repeats itself and the zodiac calendar resets, suggesting new beginnings.The gifts for this birthday are intended to be exceptionally special, and usually consist of spirits, wine, money and "peaches" shaped out of steamed wheat. The "peach" treat is filled with a sweet filling, and is meant to be a dessert for the person's new life. The gifts are usually wrapped in a red paper to signify happiness. For every birthday after the age of 60, especially those at decade milestones such as 70, the person should be given similar gifts, though in greater amounts.

Birthday Gift Guidelines

Most gifts are generally considered acceptable for Chinese birthdays, though intimate or obscene items should be avoided. Chinese culture values gifts celebrating longevity, health and happiness. Any birthday gift that challenges the idea of longevity is frowned upon. For example, you would not give a clock or watch to someone, as the gift reminds the recipient or our limited time on earth. You can offer noodles to the person celebrating a 60th birthday, but only if the noodles are their full length. Noodles that are cut short also represent short life. During the birthday celebration, the Chinese will eat the noodles whole, without chewing.

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