Romance at the Sushi Counter?

by Michael
(New Orleans, Louisiana USA)

Over the last two months I had some light conversation with a Chinese woman who has been in the U.S. for 6 months. She has been studying English for 4 months and seems to really be progressing very quickly.

I have made the attempt to learn a few words and phrases in Chinese. I have only a few minutes each day to politely say hello and ask how she is doing. I am interested in deepening the relationship but am more then willing to proceed slowly.

I have no idea if she is even interested in me and I have not let her know that I have any deep interest in her.

My question has to do with the upcoming Chinese New Year.

You see, she prepares sushi at a local food store and at Christmas I gave her a small box of chocolates, which she seemed to appreciate. I was wondering if it would be okay to give her “lai see” on the first day of the Chinese New Year. I was thinking of 8 new one dollar bills; I don't want it to be seen or thought of as a tip, I want it to be understood as a wish of "good luck" while at the same time wanting to show my growing affection for her.

I was also thinking of a jade rabbit on the 15th day of the New Year celebration. I know of no other soul to ask so I have come to you for all things regarding proper etiquette in these matters.

Victoria's Answer:

Michael Nihao,
Happy New Year!
For sure, you can give her 8 new one dollar bills as “Lai see”.

In order to make your intent clear, when you give the bills to her, you can say a few words like: “I understand that in China, 8 sounds like ‘fa’, which means good fortune in the new year. So I wish you good luck and fortune in the upcoming year, etc....

The 15th day is another great festival in Chinese culture, and I think a jade rabbit is a terrific gift for her.Chinese SmileyChinese Smiley

Best regards,


Photo courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt.

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