If you’re planning on travelling anywhere in the world, it’s important to know the customs of that country. While gifts may always seem like a good idea, presenting a host with something deemed unacceptable in their culture could have you eating your dinner alone. Here are eight countries and their fascinating gift-giving cultures.
Before you even get the opportunity to present your gift to your host in Austria, just know that they’re crazy about punctuality. You can bring them a variety of gifts, from books and calculators, to fine wine and expensive chocolate. Whatever you choose to give them, know that it will be opened in front of you.
It’s hard to believe that in Cambodia birthdays aren’t a big event like they are in Western cultures. Some Cambodians of the older generation aren’t even sure exactly how old they are! If you’re invited over to someone’s house, you can give them well-presented fruit, pastries or flowers. You’ll need to make sure that you don’t use white wrapping paper as it symbolizes mourning. Last tip – make sure to give the gift with both hands!
Cubans are prepared to accept a whole collection of different gifts from tourists. While the tourism culture of giving pens to school kids is now frowned upon, there are still other gifts that are welcomed with open arms. Any clothing with English writing on it, soaps and perfumes, vitamins and medicine, and even something as basic as chewing gum.
In Hong Kong you’ve got some gift restrictions. Anything white is associated with funerals, and all things triangularly shaped are considered to be negative. What you can give them is exotic pot plants and even cognac! Red flowers are also a safe bet in Hong Kong.
If you do ever go to Iraq for a visit, you’d better be prepared to pay a hefty sum for their hospitality. The locals gladly welcome high quality leather, porcelain, silver, precious stones, cashmere and crystal. If you’re looking for a color scheme that works there, then go for blue since to the Iraqi population it’s seen as the color of love.
Despite having high quality chocolates in the Holy Land, Israelis are always happy to receive fancy chocolates from Switzerland and the Netherlands. If you’re visiting a religious family, consider that they probably only eat kosher food, which means your present will have to conform to their dietary restrictions too.
The culture in New Zealand is similar to that of most other westernized countries. Hosts will not want anything too lavish. Winning gifts include wine, a small box of chocolates and flowers. It’s also customary for the host to open the gift while the visitor is still there, usually serving whatever was brought with everyone there.
Considering that South Africa is a diverse country with 11 official languages, it’s safe to say that not every gift will be welcomed the same way in every household. In poorer communities, you can bring clothing, food, or anything else that’s practical. Candles are an excellent gift too.