DAILY DOSE OF ART

As prescribed by Paulina Constancia

Tokens of Friendship (3) – Gift-giving Protocols in Different Cultures

Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries. The first World Friendship Day was proposed for 30 July 1958. On 27 April 2011 the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30 as official International Friendship Day. However, some countries, including the USA and India, celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August.
When we care about a friend, it seems natural to have the urge to show it to them by means of a gift or token. This week I bring you Tokens of Friendship.

Today I feature “Gift-giving in Different Cultures”. One time or another in our lives, we will find ourselves in a different country navigating a different cultural climate, including very unusual gift-giving customs. You may make a friend and want to give them a gift.  It is wise to check out the local customs before you buy and wrap that special gift for your new friend.

Read more on International Friendship Day

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About Giving Gifts In Different Cultures: 
Know The Protocol
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In different cultures there are specific rules about giving gifts. It is best to check with a native resident of the country or of that culture to be sure that the gift is appropriate.

Color is a significant factor in many countries. Avoid white, black or blue wrapping in China. Green is a good color to select for wrapping a gift in the Islamic world. Yellow and red are considered joyous colors in India. In Latin America avoid black or purple as a wrapping color. These details will make a difference in the perception of the gift.

It is important to know what items to avoid. Such as, knives or letter openers reflect severing of ties in Latin America. Leather items should not be given in India. And clocks are not a good choice for a gift to someone from China. There are many resources for this information. A gift that reflects that you did your homework is appreciated.

Asian cultures especially have protocol to be considered. In Japan, for example, a gift should be wrapped. But you wouldn’t use white, because white is reserved for funerals. However, red is associated with good health. Also, gifts are recognized and appreciated, but usually not opened in the presence of the giver.


Good gift choices in Western Europe might reflect historic or intellectual appeal. Unique logoed items are appreciated in most countries, but they must be in good taste. In most places it is good to bring flowers when invited to a home but some types are not appropriate and it is better to select an odd number of blooms. In most places a gift should include a personal note or gift card.

Know when to give a gift. In China or Arab countries do not give a gift when you first meet a person so it will not be considered a bribe. However, in Japan it is not unusual for gifts to be presented when first meetings are held.

Be sure to check the local cultural protocol for giving gifts in various countries. The details always will make a difference in the response.

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This entry was posted on July 31, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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