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The exchange of gifts is a universal tradition which dates back to time immemorial. To mark the commencement of a new relationship or the strengthening of an old one, a gift is often an expression of love, gratitude, and happiness. Gifts are often traditional, as the gifting tradition of different countries reflects the unique features of the culture of the country.
Here are a few unique gifting traditions from ten countries around the world:
China has a long-standing tradition of customary reciprocity, which extends itself into their gifting habits. A gift in China is always well-wrapped in a wrapper of an appropriate colour: gold or silver for weddings, red for joyous occasions, and black or white for funerals. Gifts in China are never enthusiastically accepted, as it is seen as a sign of greed. It is customary to insist the recipient to accept the gift even after they decline it once or twice. Gifts in China are usually thoughtful and impersonal, as jewellery, clothing, etc. are considered as items which may be gifted only to romantic partners.
In Italy, gifts are an essential aspect of all social gatherings, as the guests are expected to bring a gift for the host as a gesture of thankfulness. Wine is usually considered as an appropriate gift for most occasions, which must be from a reputed vineyard. Knives, pins or other sharp objects are considered as inappropriate gifts in Italy, as they symbolize the severing of a relationship.
Flowers are an important item of gift in Spain and is often considered as a special gift for occasions. However, in Spain, flowers are always gifted in odd numbers, except the number 13, as it symbolizes good luck. Gifts in Spain are accepted very eagerly and are opened as soon as they are received, in a display of appreciation.
India has a few unique gifting traditions, as a gift in India is always given with both hands, or only the right hand, as the left hand is considered unclean. Money is often given in India as a gift on various occasions of celebration, which is always an odd number, as it is considered to bring good luck. Sweets are often considered as an appropriate gift for any occasion in India, as boxes of sweets are often exchanged among family and friends on festivals. So, if you want to send gifts to India you can always choose one of these options.
In France, the aesthetic and cultural value of a gift is more important than its price or brand. Esoteric books and music are often considered as very thoughtful gifts in France, along with chocolates, flowers or liqueur. Wine is often considered as an inappropriate gift, as most hosts prefer to choose their own wine for meals in France.
Japan has an interesting culture of gifting, as souvenirs are often exchanged among the Japanese as gifts after they return from a trip. In Japanese weddings, money is often given as a gift, in which the bills’ numbers are always an odd number, as it is believed that the couple might part ways if the amount of money is evenly divided by two. On the birth of children in Japan, gifts are distributed by the new parents among their friends and family to commemorate the happy occasion.
Exchange of gifts is considered to be an extremely intimate act in Saudi Arabia, as gifts are exchanged among lesser known friends and mere acquaintances. One of the most preferred gift items in Saudi Arabia is a vial of perfume, as a perfume often distinguishes a man or a woman from the rest in Saudi Arabia. Handmade carpets are often a common gift item, along with other impersonal items. Jewellery or clothing items are generally avoided while giving gifts to men, as gold, silver, and silk are considered as signs of emasculation in Islam. Gifts for women from men are only given in Saudi Arabia when the two are either related by blood or by marriage.
The culture of gifting in Britain is characterized by a number of unique gifts, such as lottery tickets. These are often considered as appropriate gifts for marriages, while pre-Christmas celebrations are commemorated with gifts of oranges, candles, and ribbons. In Britain, people sometimes receive a decorative key on their 21st birthdays. Although diamonds are usually gifted on the celebration of 75 years of marriage, they are also often associated with 60, as Queen Victoria marked her jubilee while being on the throne for sixty years.
The Russians have an amazing gifting tradition for birthdays, where even the guests receive gifts from the person whose birthday it is. Perfumes are a common gift for women, and so are red roses. Yellow flowers are usually avoided while giving gifts to Russia, as they symbolize bad luck. In Russia, pregnant women do not receive gifts for their babies until they are born, as it is considered a form of bad luck.
Malaysia has a few unusual practices regarding gifting, as it has a rich culture of reciprocal bonding. Corporate gifts in Malaysia are often avoided, as they may be perceived as bribes. Gifts are never opened immediately by the recipient in front of the giver, as it is often believed that a poor choice of gift might embarrass both parties. Due to the multicultural nature of Malaysia, a wide range of customs are observed while gifts are exchanged between people from different religions. Gifts in Malaysia are always given and received with both hands and is given shortly before departure, instead of making the present immediately after arrival.
The different cultures of gifting all over the world have major differences because of the wide range of beliefs and cultural associations attached to them. However, the chief aim of exchanging gift, that is, to express love and affection, remains unchanged in spite of the numerous differences of tradition and customs.