The twenty-one year old informant from Hong Kong revealed that “you’re not supposed to buy your boyfriend or girlfriend a pair of shoes because it means you want them to walk [pause] like away from you.” I jokingly asked if you want to break up with someone could just buy a pair of shoes she said, “you could.”
My informant believes in this practice and says that many of her peers back home believe in it as well. While hanging with friends on of which was considering what to buy a boyfriend for her significant other was warned not to buy shoes.
I believe this superstition is enforced because the feet literally and symbolically symbolize carrying a person to a destination. I think giving a new pair of shoes symbolized change, a change in direction that will lead them away from where they are.
To add to the list of gifts not to buy it is not good to “give your…like boyfriend [or girlfriend] a glass or cup” when asked why she explained that cups come as a set and is synonymous with sending some on off to their death bed. It is interesting that this form of lore is earned or enforced not during childhood but once a person is old enough to date.