8 Things You Shouldn't Do When Visiting Your Partner's Family in Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, you're not only making your first appearance at your significant other's family home to 'bai nian' (Chinese: 拜年; English: visiting family or friends for Chinese New Year )... you're probably gonna meet their relatives for the first time too!

8 Things You Shouldn't Do When Visiting Your Partner's Family in Chinese New Year

You already know you should be on your best behaviour, but we've got some extra bits of advice on what you should and - most importantly - should NOT do when you meet the clan:

1. Greet older members of the family when you see them, and make sure you address them as well

A simple "Hello" or a familiar Chinese New Year greeting would do; and remember to tack on an "auntie" or "uncle" as a sign of respect. For example, "Hello, Auntie!" or "Gong xi fa cai, Uncle!" 

Thankfully, you are not expected to address them by their individual familial titles just yet.

 

2. Don't come empty-handed

Mandarin oranges are practical gifts to bring along when visiting a family member or friend's house for Chinese New Year.

Mandarin oranges are practical gifts to bring along when visiting a family member or friend's house for Chinese New Year.

It's a symbol of goodwill to bring gifts when you visit one's house for Chinese New Year (known as 'bai nian' in Mandarin). 

Don't worry, you're not expected to bring a hamper of expensive Chinese herbs and ingredients. A bag of juicy Mandarin oranges, a few packets of snacks, and/or a box of Ferrero Rocher will do just fine.

 

3. If you are handed a drink, take it. Even if it's room temperature and not chilled to your liking, just take it.

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Offering snacks and drink is your host's way of welcoming you to their home, so declining might make it seem like you are ungrateful.

 

4. Go easy on the snacks, try not to hog it all to yourself

Image from cheokboardstudios / YouTube

The snack sure is addictive, but do make it a point to offer some to those sitting around you and maybe don't finish an entire tin of snacks by yourself. Moderation is key.

 

5. Don't just pay attention to your phone. The relatives want to get to know you too.

Image from Dan Khoo Productions / YouTube

Take a break from your smartphone, social media, and online games for the duration of your visit. It's rude to ignore everyone around you - even if they were practically strangers five minutes ago. 

Conversation may be awkward at first, but it doesn't hurt to break the ice by initiating small talk. After all, these people might be your in-laws one day. 

 

6. Avoid engaging in PDA with your boyfriend/girlfriend

Image from NBC

As the wise Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow once said, "Public displays of affection make people uncomfortable." Even more so when it's in front of his or her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, your cousins' kids... you get the drift.

 

7. Don't change the TV channel

Image from JianHao Tan / YouTube

You can try asking your significant other to change the channel for you, but we'd advise against it because (a) you have no power in this house, and (b) whoever is watching the TV at that time is going to be very, very annoyed at you.

 

8. Don't feel bad if you did not get an ang pow from some members of your SO's family

Image from Off the Great Wall / YouTube

BONUS: wink

You'd most probably be ordered to sit back down and eat some more, but hey, extra brownie points for trying to be helpful!