Saturday, 23 Jan 2021

Traditions of making gifts in different countries

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Honestly, dear readers, who among you does not like to receive gifts and give them? Most likely, such people simply don’t exist! After all, if only think about it, people from the immemorial time give someone gifts. For example, sacrifices to the Gods – is this not making gifts for the Great and Mighty?
But in fact, giving presents is not an easy task, and if you also have an intercultural exchange of gifts, and the one you are going to surprise is a representative of another country, you can get caught in a mess. Therefore, it is necessary to study in advance the “pitfalls” of gift giving in different cultures.


In all European countries, it is unacceptable to give very expensive gifts – this will make the European feel uneasy. Nowadays handmade gifts are very fashionable – here you, in most cases, do not fall into the trap – it will be an exclusive and original gift.
Be sure that in Germany, for example, it will be appreciated. The Germans also like practical gifts, and what can be more practical than money? You just can present a gift not in a banal paper envelope, but in the form of a money tree, for example.
Do you remember the catch phrase that “the book is the best gift”? For Europeans, this is indeed so. You can not hesitate to choose a book as a gift for a German, Dutch or Austrian.
Speaking of a gift for an Englishman, an alcoholic drink is perfect. They like to receive memorable gifts here, for example, original cards, pens, calendars, notebooks (especially if it’s your business partner).
The Portuguese with the Irish are very religious, therefore they will be happy with gifts related to their religion (for example, icons, figures of angels, saints). It is common to present perfumes and flowers to Irish women.
Going to visit the Italian, buy some refined gift – a manifestation of taste and style will be appreciated there. A wonderful gift will also be a bottle of wine with a unique bouquet and good endurance.
But you should know that in every European country there are secretly forbidden gifts. For example, in France it is indecent to present a married woman a perfume – this can only be done by her husband. In Germany, you cannot give office supplies, especially diaries – the German can see in this a hint of non-punctuality. For European feminists, most likely, a gift in the form of kitchen utensils will be unpleasant.
The giving of flowers is also a risky and delicate thing. So, French women should not be given chrysanthemums, carnations, and red roses – the last ones serve as a way to express passion and are used only in these cases.


Choosing a gift for an Arab partner or acquaintance, first of all, remember that in these countries they profess Islam, which means that it is inadmissible to give leather things (from pig skin), spirits drinks, any products with a picture of nude nature, sharp objects. Also, do not give Muslim European literature and music, and any immodest subjects of the Western world. You should hand the gift only with the right hand because the left one is considered impure.
If a man is invited to a house, his gift should be for the head of the family, but in no case for his wife. Refrain from the praise of the interior of the owner’s house, because if you show that you like something, then the hospitable host will give it to you and will expect from you an equivalent return gift.

Traditions of making gifts in different countries - photo 1
making gift


In the United States recently accepted to give a gift with a check in the box – in case the item was not to the taste, it could be exchanged or handed over. After Christmas and New Year, long queues of those who did not like presents from colleagues and relatives are built in stores. Therefore, a gift without a check and with cut labels can be an unpleasant surprise for the American recipient. Americans like to give expensive gifts, such as a set of cigars or a good wine.


Gift giving in Japan is a delicate matter. Remember the so-called “boomerang rule” – if you presented Japanese a souvenir, he will certainly have to give you a courtesy sign, and the return gift should cost the same and even a little more expensive. That’s why it is better not to present a gift without a reason because Japanese will think how to thank you, and instead of pleasant emotions he will experience shock and panic.
It is not common to present children sweets and toys on the New Year. Even the smallest Japanese will be dissatisfied if you forget to give him what he ought to get – an envelope with money.
In no case can you pack gifts in white and black paper, because these colors symbolize a funeral, and a knife symbolizes hara-kiri. It is not desirable to give gifts in the total amount equal to 4 – this figure symbolizes death. The same gloomy associations among Japanese with white flowers – they usually bring them to the funeral. There is nothing worse than handing over flowers or potted plants to an elderly or sick person, as they have associations with stagnation, land, cemetery. Japanese can refuse to accept a gift, you must be prepared for this. You need to give and receive gifts with both hands. Mostly Japanese give presents for family celebrations, and they never unpack the gift in the presence of the person who presented it.

Traditions of making gifts in different countries - photo 2
gift in Japan


Let’s start with the “underwater gift stones” of China, continuing the thought of the previous section – the Chinese cannot be presented with a knife, because it is considered a symbol of murder; and a watch – this gift will remind you that life is short and, there is little time left. Be careful with the flowers – do not give any objects white or blue, and especially flowers of these colors. They are symbols of sorrow and sadness, burial.
Chinese usually give paired items, which symbolizes unity and harmony. They accept gifts with restraint and, like the Japanese, they can refuse it. The best gift to the Chinese will be a gift that cannot be bought in this country. It is better to pack a present in gold and red colors as a symbol of luck. At conferences in China you need to make gifts to all present otherwise your gift will be taken as a bribe.


In many African countries, it is not customary to give flowers – they are relevant only at funerals and as an expression of condolence. Also, an inappropriate present will be fruit, especially bananas – on the Black Continent this is not a treat, but a fodder crop for cattle.
Many Africans will be offended if they receive means of hygiene as a gift: soap, shampoo, shower gel – this can be regarded as a hint at the lack of cleanliness of local residents. Not all Africans will be happy with the camera: in some villages, there are still superstitions that the pictures steal a part of the soul from a person, especially if a flash is used. In the north of Africa, in Libya, any animal will be found as a bad gift: people believe that if the given living entity falls ill and dies, his soul will drag the owner’s soul behind him.

Traditions of making gifts in different countries - photo 3
gift in China


In Australia, it is not accepted to present expensive gifts. Such gift can just embarrass your Australian partner. Small gifts can be presented to the memory of the meeting: mugs, key chains, etc. The Australian will appreciate the national souvenirs that tell about your country. If you are invited to visit home, grab a bouquet of flowers for the hostess or a bottle of wine.
We hope that this article was useful and interesting for you. If you have something to add, feel free to share your thoughts with us!

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