I’m dating a cute Cantonese boy, although he was born in Canada himself (along with his brother), his parents are from China. His parents are pretty strict about him dating period, never mind dating a white girl like myself.
Chinese New Year is coming up, and I know it’s a time where the older give to the younger. As I’m older than my boyfriend by a few years, would it be odd if I had gotten him one of the special lai see envelopes with money in it? Or is that just strictly family related?
During Chinese New Year, I always saw the dragon’s share of hongbao (the Mandarin term for lai see) go from parents and grandparents to the smallest members of the family — like the “treasured grandson,” my nephew. Even though my father-in-law would save a red envelope for me and my husband, I knew one thing for certain. Hongbao/lai see at Chinese New Year — these are for kids.
Don’t even think about slipping your boyfriend a red envelope — it’s the gifting equivalent of asking him to sit at the children’s table.
Instead, try a more grown-up approach to gift-giving: new clothing. Many Chinese will start the first day of the new year off in auspicious style with a completely new, never-before-worn set of clothes. You don’t have to go as far as something new from head to toe, as my mother-in-law does. But you could pick him up, say, a nice shirt or sweater, or some socks.
Still, the envelopes should remind you of one thing. If you buy him clothing, get it in red.
Happy Chinese New Year! 龙年快乐!
What do you think? What advice do you have?
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