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Hong Bau

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Splatted
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Postby Splatted » Mon, 11 Feb 2008 9:05 pm

flyingfoxx wrote:
your intentions are sweet, but giving out angpows willy nilly to all is NOT going to make you part of the Singapore culture, and may even be disrespecting it. We don't give angpows to peers, let alone colleagues.


Excuse me, but I am not handing out angows willy nilly to all and sundry. These are members of my team. Where does disrespect come in? I am not trying to "buy" friends here. In my opinion insincere flattery like you suggested is more disrespectful "say nice things about their new hairdo, clothes etc" Maybe that's how you operate. It's not my style.


flyinfoxx,

I guess to answer your question (from my own perspective), is that after my wife and I got married (my wife is a local singaporean), we discussed the topic of who to give ang pows to, since it's typically married couples that hand these out and we were newlyweds.

Usually it's given out to children (typically of some relation to you), as well as unmarried.

I brought up the topic of our closer unmarried friends - do we hand out red packets to people of the same age as us? The reason we decided against it was that it may (wrongly) send a message that we looked down on our friends for being unmarried, or worse that we thought of ourselves highly now that we were married.

It's not to say that the same friends wouldn't accept red packets if it were coming from their parents, aunt's, uncles and grandparents. That's an entirely different thing.

I don't know- perhaps it'll still be ok as you're a non-local, so people might not read too much into it, I suppose. Like you said, the 'spirit of giving'.

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Postby Superglide » Mon, 11 Feb 2008 9:14 pm

Saint wrote:I wish :( :D


Well, it doesnot work for all of us, I agree there... :wink:
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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:36 pm

If one wants to partake of a local custom, then one must be ready to take advice from the locals as to the rights, wrongs, and possible misunderstandings that may happen if custom and protocol are not followed correctly.

It's just like the leaving of some food on your plate in order to show your host that you are satisfied and giving them face. If one cleans the plate off it is taken that that person didn't get enough to eat. While they don't lose face to that person (unless they are of the same culture), they will lose face to others of the same culture seated there. Instead of railing against those who are trying to help, one should pay attention so one do not end up insulting somebody unintentionally.

There are many, many little things here that can trip up the newbie to these shores. Be careful also when bringing gifts as certain gifts mean certain things. Some not so pleasant. Instead of condemning, one should listen and learn. I've been here a quarter of a century and am still learning new little cultural faux pas every day.

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Postby jpatokal » Mon, 11 Feb 2008 11:34 pm

flyingfoxx wrote:Excuse me, but I am not handing out angows willy nilly to all and sundry. These are members of my team. Where does disrespect come in? I am not trying to "buy" friends here. In my opinion insincere flattery like you suggested is more disrespectful "say nice things about their new hairdo, clothes etc" Maybe that's how you operate. It's not my style.

Just because you don't give angpows to your peers and colleagues does not mean it is disrespectful and that someone else shouldn't do so. It's called the spirit of giving. Just as you give gifts at Christmas. But I guess it's too alien a concept for you to comprehend.

With all due respect, you're the alien here, and Chinese New Year is not Christmas. The locals will not interpret your intentions, but your actions. As Singaporeans who lurk on this board have been trying to tell you, there's some hierarchy involved with who gives hong baos to who, and your good intentions may be misinterpreted. If you're equal to your team members, then it would not be normal to give hong baos; and if you're the boss, then it's considered a type of bonus from the company (not you personally) and the amount of money should reflect this.

If you absolutely must get into the CNY spirit, then pass out pairs of mandarin oranges or buy a can of pineapple tarts for the office. You'll get brownie points and nobody will get their knickers in a twist.
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Postby durain » Mon, 11 Feb 2008 11:57 pm

i concur that. spot on.

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Postby huggybear » Tue, 12 Feb 2008 7:37 am

Flying Foxx, if you don't give a flying f- what we think .... then give out the hong baos! but the majority of us are telling you not to do it.

jpatokal has some good ideas. just buy a jar of pineapple tarts or that pork floss for everyone to share ....

I bought a coworker a jar of pineapple tarts and they almost fell out of their chairs haha.

anyways, an interesting point was raised.... the hong bao given to me by my superiors ....... if that is a bonus from the company are they expensing it?

does everyone have the lion dance come to their office? seems more like extortion as the locals believe if they don't come it's bad luck. the best though was we went to a local chinese lunch and we had that lucky fish salad (which is a massive salad with about five nonexistant strips of fish) that we all shared and the local chinese were saying how it's this ancient chinese tradition and my coworker from the mainland Guangzhou was like "what? this is not true." hahaha.

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Postby Jeppo » Tue, 12 Feb 2008 8:54 am

Plavt wrote:
Saint wrote:
I wish :( :D


Hope you have a good supply of oranges, could be a new job for you - growing them. :P :lol:


Good supply? There're 5 people in my work unit and one of our contractors gave us 3 boxes of the suckers. I swear my skin is turning orange :lol:

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Postby Jeppo » Tue, 12 Feb 2008 9:01 am

huggybear wrote:the best though was we went to a local chinese lunch and we had that lucky fish salad (which is a massive salad with about five nonexistant strips of fish) that we all shared and the local chinese were saying how it's this ancient chinese tradition and my coworker from the mainland Guangzhou was like "what? this is not true." hahaha.


This is probably a regional custom. My wife and I were told once that chinese do not turn the fish when serving because it will bring bad luck (ie. the fishing boat will overturn) but my wife had never heard of it (she's ethnic chinese). We asked her mother and she said that it is common in fishing villages but most chinese from towns and cities don't practice that superstition.

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Postby Splatted » Tue, 12 Feb 2008 9:30 am

sundaymorningstaple wrote:There are many, many little things here that can trip up the newbie to these shores. Be careful also when bringing gifts as certain gifts mean certain things.


OO, good point about the gifts. I had in mind buying someone a clock once, and my wife told me clocks are a no-no, as it is like giving a message you want them to die or their "time" is running out......or something along that line...

edit: clock, not watch

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Postby birkin » Fri, 14 Mar 2008 7:10 pm

I heard that clocks mean bad luck to the Chinese, but are the Chinese still holding onto this superstition, or is it an old supersitition?

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Fri, 14 Mar 2008 8:20 pm

Lolex can, :P Big Ben Alarm clock cannot! :(

Old superstition but still generally practiced, just like burning offerings during the hungry ghost festivals. It cultural. Accept it. Try to learn about it before trying to partake of it. It's roots are in ancient history but nonetheless relevant today (at least for them).

Splatted, I'm glad you voiced that one as that was the one I was thinking about when I wrote earlier on.


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