Years ago I had the privilege of working with my father when he created The Miami International Folk Festival. I got to meet people from all over the world and was fascinated to learn about their music, dance, dress, food and especially about their native customs.
One of the things I became really aware of through that experience is that when you are traveling out of the country, it is important to learn the customs of the people you will be visiting. Not being aware of certain customs can often create unintended misunderstandings.
For example, for a wedding gift here in San Diego, I would create a gorgeous white and gold or white and silver gift basket creation like the one pictured here. But this would be a terrible choice for a bride in China, since the color white is the color of death there.
So, instead, for a bride in China I would make the gift basket red and gold, which signifies prosperity and good luck.
Here are a few more interesting international gift giving etiquette facts:
- In Brazil, black or purple is the color of mourning.
- In Mexico, yellow flowers indicate death.
- In many Latin American countries, a letter opener or fancy set of steak knives is not the nice gift you may mean it to be. Giving a knife means you want to cut off the relationship!
- In the Philippines, it is not customary to open the gift in front of the giver. It will be opened later when the giver is no longer present.
- In Spain, if you are given a gift, open it immediately.
- In Italy, do not give gifts that promote your logo or company name.
- Muslim Indonesians consider dogs unclean. Do not give a toy or plush dog as a gift.
- In China, gifts are always reciprocated. It is bad etiquette not to reciprocate.
- In Saudi Arabia, gifts are only given to very close friends.
- In Japan, present and receive gifts with both hands.
Do you have any interesting etiquette trivia you have picked up in your world travels? Please click on the comment button and share.
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