Do you know what CNY stands for? It stands for Chinese New Year, not City New York. If you answered the latter one, you should keep reading.
Some Chinese habits are odd for Westerners and vice versa. Too bad, you are a foreigner invited to a Chinese-dominant culture country (besides Malay and Indian culture of course). So you better learn the basics of that culture. Actually, I could say "OUR culture" since both my parents are Chinese. But hey, it's better to say you are French when you are selling French wine. Sorry.
Brushing your teeth after or before breakfast?
For instance, did you know that Chinese people brush their teeth before having their breakfast? Because your mouth is dirty, you don't want to swallow all those germs. Or that they would always take off their shoes when they are home? Do you know how much time is necessary to keep a home clean? Or that you should call your father-in-law "father" and your mother-in-law "mother". It means that you feel part of the family. I could talk hours and hours about how different our cultures are and why both points of view are fascinating. It's a great conversation starter. But it can also be a conversation "ender".
No, they don't drink fancy wine with dog meats
However, do not fall into cliches: Chinese people eating dogs meat while drinking Burgundy wines or adding Pepsi-cola to their glass of Bordeaux wine to make it less harsh to drink (who drinks Pepsi anyway). Please, just don't. What should you do then? Don't try so hard, it should remain a pleasant moment and a convivial experience.
So here are the most basic tips that you should listen to if you care about being respectful toward one of the world most ancient culture. Again, I am a Chinese born in France so I am familiar with most common mistakes Westerners make when they are invited to Chinese gatherings.
1. Greet everyone
Go say "hi" to everyone and call them by their title. CNY is about togetherness. You are supposed to spend a good time altogether. So acknowledge their presence and let them acknowledge yours. Even if that grandpa doesn't speak a word of English, just shake his hand and smile to him.
2. Respect the elderly
I am the best suck up ever at Chinese gatherings. My secret? Be nice to the elderly. Because they are the Alphas. If they like you, everyone will have to like you. Offer them to refill their cup of tea for instance. If they practice Taichi, you can probably offer them some wine as well.
3. Eat your food
You don't have to finish all the food that has been forcefully put on your plate. But you should at least try all the dishes and not show any sign of disgust. This includes giving a smile while eating duck tongues or century eggs.
4. Bring a present
It doesn't have to be fancy. It just about the gesture. Some oranges or candies for the kids. Or, ahem, a nice bottle of red wine that you ordered from Wine and Chill here.
5. Say farewell to everyone
For the same reason why you should greet everyone, don't forget to say goodbye. Wait for that auntie who went to the bathroom to return and say goodbye in person.
6. Give a ride back
If you are driving and that other guests are not, offer them a ride. Even if they live in Clementi and you, in East Coast park. And insist even though they said "no thanks". The reason is that your offer must appear genuine.
What about red envelopes? That deserves an article on its own. Maybe, I will write about it next year.
Happy Chinese New year to all of you. And buy more wine online from us!