4 min read
Here are a few top tips to remember:
Japan: Don´t forget a gift for YOUR business partner
Gift giving is a big tradition for Japanese businessmen. Generally, gifts are exchanged at the end of the year and at the mid point too but it´s considered highly appropriate to give modest but sometimes extravagant gifts to new and continuing business partners. There are many other important rules to observe too such as giving the gift with both hands and the recipient refusing the offering on no less than two occasions before finally accepting it with modest gratitude. Gift wrapping the present is also a must!
China: Don´t send clocks or plants as gifts for sick people
Unlike us in the west, the Chinese do not like to send flowers as a get-well gift, as they consider it to be symbolic that they will soon die! In addition to this, clocks and watches are also considered a no-no as a present, once again because it symbolises that the end is near, or more specifically that time is running out for the person receiving it. So, sending someone a watch or ornamental clock as a retirement gift is definitely out of the question if you have any Chinese friends in Beijing or Shanghai.
Russia: Be careful what flowers you send
Sending flowers to Russia can brighten people´s days on many occasions such as birthdays, weddings and anniversaries. However, just be careful what flowers you choose as Russia has a whole host of rules and customs related to the type of flowers you send. First of all the colour of your flowers is hugely important, with yellow flowers, for instance, symbolising deceit or sadness, or worse, an imminent breakup. Also be careful when sending red flowers to a romantic partner in Russia. Like for instance if you are in a new relationship red roses could send the wrong message as red is considered to symbolise the deepest level of commitment. In this particular case pink roses are considered equally romantic, but with a less heavy handed message. In addition to this, red carnations, which are considered an uplifting and colourful present in other countries are used to pay respects to the dead, especially in the case of war graves, so sending them to someone on their birthday would probably be considered inappropriate.
Brazil: Don´t send knives or pointy objects
Perhaps this one seems obvious, but it´s a bad idea to send gifts such as kitchen knives or scissors. However, this is not because they are considered dangerous to the person opening them. It is because they are considered to bring bad luck! It is not totally certain why the Brazilians view this particular custom with such superstition but some people think that it is because it signifies the cutting of bonds between family and friends. In any case, even if your Brazilian friends are top chefs, it’s probably better to buy them a nice gift basket or a tie instead. Just to be on the safe side.
Italy: Send coffee to warm someone´s new home
It´s more customary in the US or Britain to send someone a gift basket or flowers as a housewarming present. However, Italians have their own special custom. Italy is known worldwide for its love of coffee and this is especially the case for people moving into a new home, or as a thoughtful present for an elderly friend or relative; especially if it´s Lavazza. The reason behind this seems to be less to do with symbolism and more to do with practicality however as coffee is considered a household staple.
The world is often a confusing place with different rules and customs causing headaches, but follow these rules and you’ll be able to delight your friends, relatives and colleagues with ease and with whatever you choose.