The 7 Gifts You Should Never Give: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

For centuries, cultural practices have been passed down through generations, with some traditions enduring the test of time. One such practice is the act of gift-giving, which has remained a significant custom even in the modern era.


7 Things You Should Never Give as Gifts

There are numerous rules to follow when it comes to gift-giving, as presenting the wrong item can be considered offensive. Our ancestors had their own set of guidelines, including the following seven things that should never be given as gifts.

1. Wallet

In ancient times, a wallet was seen as a symbol of one’s wealth. While this may not be as significant today, it is still considered inappropriate to give a wallet as a casual gift. A wallet is an intimate item that is constantly carried, so it should only be given to someone you have strong feelings for, rather than a casual friend.

Wallets are intimate gifts, meant for those you hold dear.

If you wish to give a wallet as a gift, consider the nature of your relationship with the recipient. Even if you are close, it may not be appropriate.

2. Pears

This may come as a surprise, as pears are simply fruit. However, in the past, pears were avoided as gifts due to their association with the word “leave” or “depart.” This rule is still followed today, and pears are rarely given as presents.

Giving pears as a gift could symbolize departure.

Superstition aside, no one wants to be on the receiving end of such negative connotations. Therefore, when choosing a gift, it is best to avoid pears.

3. Handbells

In Chinese culture, handbells are particularly avoided due to their association with a profanity. Additionally, bells are often rung during funerals, further linking them to negative connotations.

Handbells are often associated with funerals and profanity.

The sound of a bell tolling during a funeral is a somber reminder of mortality. As such, giving a handbell as a gift is generally inappropriate, unless the recipient has a particular interest in them.

4. Candles

Candles are often associated with funeral rites and are therefore not considered suitable gifts. While our ancestors may have used candles, oil lamps were more common.

Candles are often used in solemn occasions like funerals.

Today, scented candles are commonly given as gifts, and this taboo has largely been forgotten.

5. Shoes

Giving shoes as a gift was believed to symbolize departure or separation. Shoes that fit well will be worn as the recipient walks away, never to return.

Shoes as gifts were seen as a sign of farewell.

Additionally, shoes were once considered intimate items, especially for women. Showing one’s feet was considered taboo, and a husband was not permitted to see his wife’s feet until they were married. It was also believed that giving shoes would send all your bad luck to the recipient.

6. Pillows

In ancient times, pillows symbolized status and good fortune. They were also considered intimate items. Giving a pillow as a gift could be interpreted as passing on your luck and success in life.

Pillows were once symbols of status and good fortune.

Randomly giving a pillow to someone could send the wrong signal about your intentions and potentially lead to misunderstandings about the nature of your relationship.

7. Fish Tanks

Our ancestors believed in the power of feng shui and considered fish tanks to be symbols of wealth and good fortune. The saying, “Water brings forth money,” reflects the belief that a family’s wealth is often accompanied by a small pond or fish tank (usually containing koi) to attract luck.

Giving away a fish tank could be seen as giving away your luck.

Even if you wish to give one away, the recipient may be hesitant to accept it, as it could be seen as taking away your family’s good fortune. If you do give a fish tank, do not include fish or water, as these are considered intimate items. Overall, it is best to avoid giving fish tanks as gifts.

Note: This article is for reference only and is not intended to provide definitive guidance.

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