Her Culturally Incorrect Gift Giving
when travelling we meet people who touch our hearts
in a special way or, 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
||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
you 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
(Source: Journeywoman files and
Raise Your Cultural IQ, Louisa Nedkov)
the best gifts are so simple...
of 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' woman's...
| sarong at the
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
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.