Generous Taiwanese

I have without doubt formed an opinion that the Taiwanese are amongst the most generous people in the world. Upon the arrival of our first child we were showered with gifts and hong bao’s containing quite substantial amounts of money. Upon turning a month old, we then sent out the traditional ‘you fan’ (oil rice) to the givers of presents, and in turn they again gave us more hong bao’s. Teacher’s day generally is, and again was another windfall with SOGO, Grand Hyatt and Starbucks vouchers the norm, and also the odd pen or watch. Christmas is alway big here, with most students giving their teacher something, and the bosses putting on Christmas dinner (some bosses). Chinese new year brings the wei ya and hong bao’s yet again. Let’s not forget the birthday presents and other holidays and more surprises.

I just wanted to put all this down somewhere, there’s generally a bit of whining about the pet peeves in Taiwan, but the Taiwanese are pretty damn generous. Thanks guys.



That river of generousity flows both ways. The real test of generousity is when it is your turn to slip the $$$$ into the little red envelopes. Will you be equally generous when those hungbaos hit you when all your in-laws, relatives, friends, colleagues, significant other’s classmates (elementary school through university) etc. get married or have kids. It can get extremely expensive. :slight_smile:

Yep, and with 17 neices and nephews I’m a walking example.

I am a living example of the ugly American in this picture. Always seem to flip this culture expectain up. i.e thanks for the hung bao, forget to send one later. There was an earlier thread about this, almost a year ago. Generous is it, some people could not find it then. I’m not sure now. Love the tradition, will particpate again.


Haha, I think you’re in for a rude awakening… gift giving(hong baos) in the Asian world is a two-way street, double edge sword, whatever you wanna call it…

According to my gf’s parents, who are both teachers in Taipei(university and elementary), in the long run they have been giving away a lot more than they receive.

Nothing one can do about it either, it’s not like you can out-right refuse to accept a red envelope(you can lightly object). But refusing would just cause the other party to lose face. And once you start receiving, you will be expected to start giving…

I am assuming that your wife is Taiwanese…does she have a lot of brothers, sisters, cousins? Prepare to start forking it over now that you have children… hehe did you read the rule where it says that once you become parents in the Asian World, you have officially become the hong boa giver as well as the receiver? I suggest to have 4-5 children to balance things out.

So sorry to rain on your parade dude… there may be a few ppl out there who are true, honest, generous ppl who give from the purest heart… ok there aren’t any, who am I kidding.

Ritual gift-giving is not real generosity, it is merely a custom. Having said that, I have often been on the receiving end of generosity here where there has been no question of me being expected to reciprocate at some future date. That is true generosity.

I agree amos. The Taiwanese are excessively generous as a culture and I don’t believe they do it because they expect anything in return from you. It’s a sort of guanxi mechanism, basically. By being kind and generous to those they may consider deserving, they are scoring major brownie points for themselves, but this is not to be seen as devious. It’s far from that as it’s extremely sincere and done so with good will. It’s one of the more charming traits of this culture, and when you learn to play along and dole out the gifts, dinners, jobs, etc, to others you find deserving, you will find that your own guanxi improves greatly in turn. But that’s not the reason to do it either. You just learn to do it, tis all. And it works.

I believe Alien’s right. Although more ‘formalised’ giving, like at wedding’s, has certain rules about giving back, I received quite a few hongbao that were considerably more than they could have been, with very little possibility that I’d have to give back to those people. I can’t doubt that this was pure generosity.

I also don’t believe that just because you expect that generosity will be reciprocated, or gain face or guanxi from it, this means that it is not true generosity. I’d say that 99% of the time that people are generous, they expect to gain something for themselves out of it (face, reciprocity, karma, getting into heaven, a good feeling inside - whatever).


Exactly. None of us has 100% pure motivations but we should focus on the main, generous act rather than looking for the little specks of impure motivation.

I’ve come to the same conclusion as amos, but it works both ways.

If you want a life where people give to you out of genuine affection for you, you’ve got to build a life where you give that to others. Works the same way back home.

I’m serious here, but I don’t blame those of you who are looking for a barf bag right now.

I take the more cynical view. It’s more about face. And social lubrication. Why give more? It’s because your status will become elevated. I am from Taiwan. Many people dread getting invited to weddings, baby showers, etc. because it means more obligation.

Well, I saw a lot of beggers around ShiMenDing area and a lot of ppl will give them some coins, so that to me is consider pretty generous since I don’t do it that often.

I don’t really give out any freebies unless you are totally dying off the street. Like those ppl holding a I will work for Food sign in US?? Once I gave a guy a hamburger since he said he will work for food, he must be hungry and guess what…He said that he rather have the $$ to smoke some weeeeeeed than to have a burger!! :shock: What the HELL?? The maybe he should changed the sign to I will work for $$, which will be much more approiate.