Culturally Incorrect Gift Giving
| Evelyn Hannon
when travelling we meet people who touch our hearts
in a special way or maybe we'd like to show our
appreciation to a host or tour guide for their hospitality
and kindness. This is when culturally correct gift-giving
is so important. We aim to please with our tokens
of appreciation, not offend. Yet there are times
when our good intentions are spoilt simply because
we're not aware of some of the major do's and don'ts.
Here are a few culturally sensitive guidelines that
Journeywoman has learned along the way.
||Remember that in Muslim
cultures alcohol is forbidden. Even the finest wines
and champagnes are an absolute no-no and will always
be considered in very poor taste.
||Does someone in China
make your heart beat faster? Want to please this
man with a Swiss Army knife? Don't do it! To him,
a sharp object symbolizes the cutting off of a friendship.
||Ditto if you're sending a gift card
to someone in China.
It's best to avoid using red ink. In that context
it, too, suggests the severing of the relationship.
||Have a guy in Mexico?
Think pink but shun purple when choosing his present.
In Mexico purple is reserved especially for funerals.
||Got a honey in Japan?
Never, never decorate his gift with white giftwrap.
White is connected with death not love. He won't
are invited to dinner in Taiwan,
bringing any type of food present (fruit basket,
chocolates) is a "no-no." While you may have the
best intentions, the message your gift carries
is that your host requires help in feeding her
never give a married man a green baseball cap. In
this part of the world, wearing a green hat suggests
that your wife or girlfriend has been unfaithful.
Either this man will become alarmed, shed a few
tears or become very angry. I think you'll agree
that none of these options are particularly pleasant
(Source: Journeywoman files and Raise
Your Cultural IQ, Louisa Nedkov)
the best gifts are so simple...
the best presents to give a Journeywoman is a hemmed square
of cotton material 3 ft. by 5 ft. Look for a dark color
or busy pattern that won't show the dirt and you can't
see through. The best place to find this travel treasure
is in the remnant bin of your local fabric shop. This
ten-purpose cloth packs easily and becomes a travellin'
| sarong at the beach
cover for bare
shoulders in a house of worship
for a picnic in your room or outdoors
when the air-conditioning is too strong
from sun that is too hot
pillow on long bus rides
on long bus rides
-- tied around your waist
screen when the only bathroom available is under the open
words on good intentions...
with good intentions never give up!
Jane Smiley, Duplicate Keys, 1984
I don't see as it matters
much how well you mean if it's harm you're doin'
Martha Ostenso, The Mad Carews, 1927
(Source: Quotations by Women, Rosalie Maggio)
with colours and objects...
handkerchiefs symbolize grief, in China
clocks are associated with death, in Japan
gifts with large corporate logos are frowned upon and when
offering flowers in Taiwan
be certain not to give an odd number as that is considered
unlucky. When choosing wrapping paper in Vietnam
red, purple, green and blue are fine, in Singapore
red is most acceptable. Black is always a tricky colour. Check
carefully before using it in gift giving. While it can mean
"trendy" in the Western world, it often only signifies
death in other cultures.