The art of gift giving around the world is fascinating. There is an etiquette and a language to how one can properly and politely give gifts. When considering colors, numbers, and cards, all of these things could be the difference between a great gift… or a horrible misunderstanding.
India, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia
To Indian and the Middle Eastern folks, the left hand is considered unclean. When it comes to exchanging money, handshakes, or gifts, is important to do so with your right hand. The same applies in Southeast Asian countries.
Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan
In East Asian countries, you should expect to be refused once, twice, or even three times when offering your gift. The reason for this is so that the recipient doesn’t seem selfish or demanding. The same custom is expected the if you are the recipient. As the receiver, accept the gift with both hands, and palms up. This is a respectful way to accept said gift.
When it comes to items that numerous (flowers,food gifts) Numbers matter too. To East Asians, even numbers are lucky. The only exception is the number 4 (sound similar to the word “death” in Asian languages). You can read more about Chinese numerology here.
Saudi Arabia, Yemen
If you are not the closest of friends, giving a gift in these countries can be embarrassing. Acquaintances are never expected to give gifts, and you could be catching someone off guard. It is also a faux pas to give anything made of silk or gold to men.
In America, it is not uncommon to send thank you cards. To Russians, thank-you cards are thought of as pointless and impractical. A small gift to show your gratitude makes more sense. Do not give expensive gifts, for they can be seen as a bribe.
Around the Globe
It is safe to say that in every culture, it is a universal rule that gifts must be wrapped. With that said, there are also certain colors to dodge!
To learn more about country-specific gift giving etiquette, visit this website for information. What surprised you the most? Let me know in the comment section below.