Buying gifts mars festive celebrations

Updated: 2011-12-26 08:58


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BEIJING - As Christmas, solar and lunar new years come and go, one after another, China's young people are racking their brains to select and buy appropriate gifts for their friends, relatives and other important people.

Buying gifts mars festive celebrations

Shoppers throng the New World Department Store on Beijing's Chongwenmenwai Street at 2 am on Dec 25, trying to claim one of the 100 iPad 2 gifts the store offers to customers buying a product worth more than 8,888 yuan ($1,410) during the day's Christmas sales promotion. [Tian Baoxi / for China Daily]

Zhao Xiaojuan, 30, would have slept through Christmas Eve, if she had a choice. However, she had to socialize with her clients, inviting them to watch the Chinese pop duo Yu Quan's concert.

Since the last three days, she had been taking business partners to a spa and buying them top cosmetics brands.

"I was supposed to relax on holidays, but this feels more stressful than working at the office," said Zhao, a manager at a private investment company.

Zhao is not alone. More than 40,000 netizens have been discussing gift-giving on China's Sina micro blog for the past two days. Many young people complained about going bankrupt as they spent too much on holiday gifts.

"I'll have to eat instant noodles for the whole month to save money," said a young employee at a foreign company surnamed Zhou.

Zhou said he had spent more than two months' salary buying gifts.

Some say they give gifts fearing they might lose promotion opportunities and business partners if it were otherwise.

"I have to give gifts to show respect and gratitude to my clients, because all my colleagues do so," said Gao Ping, a fresh college graduate working in a small southern city.

Zhai Xuewei, head of the psychology department at Nanjing University, said people gave holiday gifts to friends to gain a sense of security.

Some said the financial burden seemed to be increasing every passing year, now that they were obliged to mark Christmas, Valentine's Day and other non-traditional holidays with buying gifts.

Zhou said he bought his girlfriend a necklace for Valentine's Day, and a mobile phone for Christmas this year. "I could have saved 10,000 yuan ($1,580) if we didn't have to celebrate foreign holidays," said Zhou.

Some wished people would not equate affection with money.

Gao Ping said receiving expensive return gifts from friends and colleagues embarrassed her.

"I know they want to show their affection for me. But words speak louder than money," said Gao.