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 Culture of Gift-giving in Asia

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Danai
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PostSubject: Culture of Gift-giving in Asia   Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:15 am



Gift-giving in most Asian culture is regarded as good manners and etiquette. In the Asian culture and societies, gift-giving is essential due to the significance of interpersonal relationships. Mainly interpersonal relationships is an association that comes between two or more people and can be highly influenced by cultural environments and social behavior. In Asia, gift-giving is common among familiar relations, friendship and even work relationships and business interactions.

Depending on the country, certain gift-giving practices can be highly appropriate and significant. Some Asian countries include Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, China and the Philippines. In different cultures, especially Japan, the Philippines and in Indonesia, the gift exchange is a tradition that has been strongly rooted. It is important to know that in some countries and Asian cultures, people are often taken to dinner and given gifts to create critical relationships and associations. In China the connection that gift-giving has with relationships are similar and thus is built upon.

In Asian culture, the act of gift-giving is closely related to personal and business relationships. People who give gifts in Asia will cultivate and maintain their relationships by hanging on to the close ties that they have with business associates and companies they do business with. The gift-giving is an important way to earn trust and gain respect from one person to another. For some Asian countries such as Japan or China, business is a personal endeavor and therefore any relationship that is among the business is considering a priority to hold onto the connections. Usually, successful people in China or other gift-giving Asian countries will have a network of friends, acquaintances, relatives and associates in their company that do favors for one another which is why gift giving is so important to maintain.

In countries such as China, certain items should not be given as gifts as they could embarrass and ultimately offend the person or group the gift is given to. An example would be watches or clocks because the root of the Chinese word for clock often symbolizes death and funerals. Clocks are considered a symbol of bad luck. In other countries giving the gift of wine or other liqueur is not acceptable. Gifts that could be construed as a romantic gesture should be avoided as well in many Asian cultures unless it is appropriate. In Malaysia, gifts are only given when a relationship between giver and receiver has been established. Lacking the knowledge about Asian culture and expectations of gift-giving can have even the best intentions seem uninviting and rude.

Gift-giving is a common practice among most Asian cultures but especially the Japanese as they really enjoy giving gifts. It is not only a common occurrence but it widely accepted as a social duty and sometimes as an obligation. The ritual of gift-giving is one special form of appreciation and sometimes can be a form of competition as seen with competing companies who wish to impress clients. There is also a form of competition that exists between the gift giver and the recipient. For example, the next time that the gift giver gives a gift to someone it has to be bigger and better than the one they were given to begin with. The cycle then continues on. When giving gifts in the Japanese culture, they usually will act humble versus proud of the gift they are giving and will often hide away from praise they receive in return for the gift. Praise is something that is commonly used as appreciation as well. It is important for people who receive the gift to go on and on about how much they like the gift. This is known as a “thousand and one thanks” according to tradition of gift-fiving in Japan.



The way that the gift is presented is also an important thing to know when giving gifts in the Asian culture. Sometimes, it’s polite offer the gift to its recipient with one or two hands. Certain cultures will have issues against a certain hand due to their body hygiene beliefs. In most Asian countries, people will give and also receive gifts with both hands just to show basic respect of the gift-giving tradition. It is not uncommon for people in Asia to refuse gifts initially. They may refuse to accept the gifts given until a third or even fourth time. The reason for this is that in the Asian culture, most people want to show a bit of modesty instead of looking greedy if they accept gifts right away. Another reason is due to respect if the gift is inappropriate for the recipient, then the giver does not feel embarrassed. Of course, it varies within different countries but typically the tradition of gift giving is similar.

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