This is it. The relationship milestone you've either been dreading or looking forward to most.
This Chinese New Year, you're not only making your first appearance at your significant other's family home to 'bai nian' (Chinese: 拜年; English: visiting family or friends for Chinese New Year )... you're probably gonna meet their relatives for the first time too!
You already know you should be on your best behaviour, but we've got some extra bits of advice on what you should and - most importantly - should NOT do when you meet the clan:
1. Greet older members of the family when you see them, and make sure you address them as well
A simple "Hello" or a familiar Chinese New Year greeting would do; and remember to tack on an "auntie" or "uncle" as a sign of respect. For example, "Hello, Auntie!" or "Gong xi fa cai, Uncle!"
Thankfully, you are not expected to address them by their individual familial titles just yet.
2. Don't come empty-handed
It's a symbol of goodwill to bring gifts when you visit one's house for Chinese New Year (known as 'bai nian' in Mandarin).
Don't worry, you're not expected to bring a hamper of expensive Chinese herbs and ingredients. A bag of juicy Mandarin oranges, a few packets of snacks, and/or a box of Ferrero Rocher will do just fine.
3. If you are handed a drink, take it. Even if it's room temperature and not chilled to your liking, just take it.
Offering snacks and drink is your host's way of welcoming you to their home, so declining might make it seem like you are ungrateful.
4. Go easy on the snacks, try not to hog it all to yourself
The kuih kapit sure is addictive, but do make it a point to offer some to those sitting around you and maybe don't finish an entire tin of snacks by yourself. Moderation is key.
5. Don't just pay attention to your phone. The relatives want to get to know you too.
Take a break from your smartphone, social media, and online games for the duration of your visit. It's rude to ignore everyone around you - even if they were practically strangers five minutes ago.
Conversation may be awkward at first, but it doesn't hurt to break the ice by initiating small talk. After all, these people might be your in-laws one day. ;)
6. Avoid engaging in PDA with your boyfriend/girlfriend
As the wise Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. Black Widow once said, "Public displays of affection make people uncomfortable." Even more so when it's in front of his or her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, your cousins' kids... you get the drift.
7. Don't change the TV channel
You can try asking your significant other to change the channel for you, but we'd advise against it because (a) you have no power in this house, and (b) whoever is watching the TV at that time is going to be very, very annoyed at you.
8. Don't feel bad if you did not get an ang pow from some members of your SO's family
There's always next time. ;)
BONUS: Offer to help with the clean up. :D
You'd most probably be ordered to sit back down and eat some more, but hey, extra brownie points for trying to be helpful!
Got any more tips for those who are going to their boyfriend or girlfriend's family home for the first time this Chinese New Year? Share your wisdom in the comments section below!