Traditions of Gift Giving Around the World


Gifting traditions are a fascinating aspect of global culture, as they provide insight into the values, customs and social dynamics of different societies. The act of giving and receiving gifts holds special significance in various parts of the world, serving as a way to express gratitude, and strengthen relationships. And celebrate important milestones. While the underlying sentiment of generosity remains universal, the specific practices and rituals associated with gift giving can differ greatly from one country to another. These traditions often reflect a blend of historical, religious and cultural influences that have shaped the way gifts are exchanged and appreciated. Understanding the diverse gifting traditions around the world allows us to appreciate the richness and diversity of global cultures and the importance placed on the act of gifting. Gifting traditions vary greatly around the world, with different cultures and countries having their own unique customs and practices. Here are some notable gifting traditions from different parts of the world:

Gifting Traditions in United States

In the United States, gift giving is deeply ingrained in the cultural fabric and is a common practice for various occasions and celebrations. It is seen as a way to show appreciation, love and thoughtfulness towards family, friends and acquaintances. In the United States, gift giving is common for various occasions including birthdays, Christmas, weddings and baby showers. Gifts are often wrapped in colourful paper and exchanged during festive gatherings.

Gifting Traditions in Japan

In Japan, the act of gift giving is highly valued and deeply rooted in culture. Exchanging gifts is common on numerous occasions, such as New Year’s, weddings and business meetings. Gifts are typically presented with both hands, and the emphasis is placed on the wrapping and presentation rather than the actual gift. Japan has a tradition of giving seasonal gifts, especially during New Year. These gifts known as “Oseibo” and “ochugen” are given as tokens of gratitude to express appreciation. Gift giving in Japan often follows a sense of reciprocity and obligation. If someone receives a gift, there is an expectation with a gift of similar value in nature. It is also common to reciprocate a gift with a return gift. This practice emphasises maintaining balance and reciprocity in relationships.

Gifting Traditions in China

In China, gift giving is an important part of social interactions and is particularly significant during the Chinese New Year and other festivals. Symbolism is significant, with numbers and colours holding meaning. Red envelopes containing money are commonly given to children and unmarried adults as a symbol of good luck and prosperity and tea, food, alcohol and cultural symbols are other popular choices. Business gifts are given to foster relationships. Respectful etiquette includes offering gifts with both hands. Items like clocks and sharp objects are avoided on the basis of being a taboo.

Gifting Traditions in India

In India, gifting is a customary practice and holds great significance in various cultural and religious festivals. Key practices include exchanging gifts during festivals, weddings and special occasions. Sweets, clothing, accessories, religious items and home décor are the popular choices. Personalised gifts and money are also common. When giving money as a gift, it should always be in odd numbers since odd numbers are considered lucky in India, especially the number ‘one’. Number 1 signifies a new beginning, whereas a round number appears to signify an end. It is common to offer gifts with both hands which show respect and humility. Wrapping and presentation of the gift is given attention. Gift wrapping is neat with appropriate colours and designs according to the occasion.

Gifting Traditions in Germany

Gifting traditions in Germany emphasise practicality and quality. Flowers, chocolates, wine and personalised items are popular choices. Neat gift wrapping is important. Traditional crafts and culture reflect German heritage. In Germany, gifting traditions are deeply rooted in the Christmas season. People exchange presents on December 24th and gifts are often placed under the Christmas tree. Advent calendars are also popular, where small gifts or chocolates are opened each day leading up to Christmas. Gifts are presented with both hands and opened immediately.

Gifting Traditions in Mexico

In Mexico, the tradition of “Las Posadas” involves a re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter before the birth of Jesus. During this time, small gifts and treats called “aguinaldos” are given to children and participants. Mexican handicrafts like pottery, textiles and jewellery are popular gifts. On the day of the dead, small gifts are placed on altars to honour deceased loved ones. Mexicans often give thoughtful and meaningful gifts to show their appreciation and love for the person being celebrated. There are no customs when it comes to wrapping gifts. Gifts are opened in front of the giver.

Gifting Traditions in South Africa

Gifting traditions in South Africa encompass occasions like birthdays, weddings and holidays. Ubuntu, the philosophy of humanity towards others, influences gift giving. A popular gifting tradition is called “Kalahari Christmas cards”. These cards are small handcrafted ornaments made from palm leaves and coloured beads. Handcrafted arts, personalised items and food are popular choices. Gift exchanges and charity donations are also common. Cultural sensitivity and thoughtful presentation are valued. Gratitude and opening gifts in front of the giver is customary.

Gifting Traditions in Russia

In Russia, gift giving is prominent during the New Year celebration, which is the most important holiday in the country. Gifts are exchanged on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. While it is not customary for more affordable gifts to be wrapped in paper, expensive ones should be and should be accompanied by the right card. Considering how highly valued children are in Russian culture, it is considerate to bring tiny toys or treats while visiting a family with young children. Children often unwrap whatever gifts you give them in private, whereas adults usually do so in front of other people. Giving a pregnant woman a baby present before her kid is born is extremely unlucky. It’s considered bad manners to show up unprepared to any social function.

Gifting Traditions in Egypt

Gift giving traditions in Egypt include exchanging gifts during religious festivals like Eid, giving gifts for birthdays, weddings and new-borns, bringing housewarming gifts during Ramadan and giving gifts for special occasions. It is customary to wrap gifts nicely, present them with either right hand or both hands and open them in private. A small present for the kids is considered a thoughtful gesture. Flowers are not given as gifts as Flowers are typically given to the sick, newlyweds, and people in grief.


These are just a few examples of gifting traditions around the world. It’s important to note that gifting customs can vary even within countries, and traditions may change over time. Giving gifts is a long-standing custom that has permeated many civilizations. It can be a potent method to express someone’s gratitude, affection, and respect as well as one’s social standing, allegiance, and friendship. Although the customs around giving gifts differ widely from culture to culture, their fundamental goal—to deepen connections—remains the same. Different gift types have cultural connotations of their own; in some circumstances, some are perceived as having greater significance than others. Understanding these subtleties is essential when choosing an appropriate gift because social etiquette plays a significant role in the traditions around gift-giving. In conclusion, despite the fact that its connotations might change depending on the occasion, giving gifts is still a significant ritual practised by many different civilizations around the world. The amount of consideration that was put into choosing a unique item to genuinely convey our thoughts to those we care about most is ultimately what matters.
Discover a diverse range of gifts for every occasion, category and budget at the Gifts World Expo taking place this July in New Delhi.

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