Never give watches or clocks as Tet gifts, as they are reminders of our mortality. Mirrors are also a bad idea, as they can attract malicious ghosts, and they’re easily broken and this can lead to bad luck. Knives and scissors, in fact anything sharp and pointy, are taboo as gifts as they symbolise cutting off a friendship.
Cats should never be given as gifts during Tet, for the noise they make sounds similar to the Vietnamese word for poor, ngheo. Engagement rings and marriage proposals are also not a popular ‘gift’ at Tet, because if the woman turns down the man’s offer, he may be plagued by bad luck in the coming year. While we’re on the topic of rings, don’t buy a ring for a Vietnamese woman during Tet because it’s bad luck for her to come into contact with metal – you guessed it – because it brings bad luck.
Finally, never make a gift of pepper during the Lunar New Year because the word for pepper (hạt TIÊU) sounds like the word for dissipate (TIÊU tan).