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Learning about new cultures and traditions can be both an eye-opening and enlightening experience. So many people in different countries do things far differently than what we are used to. Here are a few gift giving practices from around the world to help understand how diverse and unique the cultures of the world can be.
In Morocco, gift giving is saved for friends and people who have already met, so hold back on giving gifts at a first meeting. When invited to a Moroccan home, be sure to bring gifts for the hostess. Gifts of nuts, flowers and pastries are accepted.
Also when visiting a home, it is seen as a sign of affection and appreciation to bring gifts for any children of the host. Books are the best option, and small gifts from your country of origin are also acceptable.
Be sure not to bring gifts that can be easily found in the area you are staying (like the local souvenir shop) as the gifts will be received as pointless and lazy.
Do not be offended if your gift is not opened upon presentation, gifts are usually not opened until after all the guests have left.
If you are lucky enough to be invited over to a house in Sweden, gifts for the host or hostess are expected. Pastries or chocolate are good choices, along with flowers, wine and liquor.
Sweden is a child-centered society, so if your host or hostess has children be sure to bring some small gifts just for them. Candy, toys or a game are appropriate things to bring.
Once you give your gift expect it to be opened immediately, and be sure to do the same if you are given a gift. When it comes to receiving gifts, patience is not a virtue in Sweden.
For birthdays, a big Swedish tradition is breakfast in bed. A child can expect to wake up to parents and family presenting them with a tray of food and will sing them happy birthday as they enjoy their meal in bed.
Business gift giving is usually not expected, but a gift given at the close of a business deal is acceptable. If given a gift by a business associate it is respectable to reciprocate, but be sure to give a gift of similar value — it is seen as rude to try and one up your associate with a more luxurious gift.
Quality of life is a huge factor in Greece, and its citizens make for great hosts and put a lot of effort into their parties. They are very warm people and proud of their history as well as current contributions of art and architecture.
Gifts are usually exchanged between friends and family on Christmas as well as “namedays” — the birthday of the saint someone was named after. When giving gifts, they should not be expensive. Gifts are usually expected to be reciprocated, so a cheaper gift puts less of a burden on the recipient.
Gifts should be wrapped and opened immediately, and a small gift should be taken when visiting someone’s home. Hospitality is a big focus in Greece, so hosts will be extremely generous. It is important to show appreciation for this generosity, so bringing a gift is very important!
Gifts of knives or scissors signifies the end of a relationships, so those are gifts to avoid unless purposefully making a statement.
The Greek Christmas season lasts 12 days, from Christmas day until January 6. Presents are opened on January 1.
Other gift giving traditions from around the world can be found here. Being aware of the different lifestyles of the world around us is an important way to stay connected and more understanding of those different from you. Try thinking of traditions unique to your own life or groups. These are your own culture and they are important to you, just as these gift giving traditions are important to the people that practice them!