I’m on holidays in India at the moment visiting my husband’s side of the family. I sometimes feel overwhelmed at the generosity of his family. It got me thinking about the differences in the way people give gifts in different cultures, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences.
In Australia, we give gifts on birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and Christmas i.e. big occasions. When we visit someone’s house for dinner, we usually check to see what we can bring to share with everyone.
In Germany there were a couple of differences I noticed. For example, they opened Christmas presents on Christmas Eve, rather than Christmas Day. Traditionally, it was common practice to bring a small posie of flowers when you were visiting someone’s house.
When my family hosted exchange students from Japan, Korea and China, they would often give my family some gifts that were high in value-not necessarily money-wise, but sentimentaly.
In India, sweets are given out for almost every celebration e.g. a new car, receiving good news, a good grade etc. Giving money as a gift is also more common than in Australia.
These are just a few of the differences I’ve noticed, but there are some common threads in the art of giving:
– People enjoy sharing their joy with others. Sharing our celebrations makes them much more special.
-People want their gifts to show how much they care for the people they are giving them to. This means there is usually a decent amount of thought that goes into them.
-I’ve never heard of a culture where giving gifts is a bad thing. You can give a bad/wrong gift, or give it at the wrong time etc, but in general, gifts are one more way we connect with each other and enhance our friendships.
One final observation-there are often situations when I am more comfortable giving gifts than receiving them. I can sometimes be so overwhelmed by the generosity of others, I don’t know what to say. Yet I would not hesitate to be generous to them. I’m still learning how to approach these situations, but I always hope my appreciation communicates louder than my discomfort 🙂