Here is a list of 22 fun facts about presents that will blow your mind. From fun facts about gifts in the animal world to gifting etiquette in different countries. You will certainly gain new insight into the world of gifts today!
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Fun facts about presents in the animal world
#1 Chimpanzees give each other gifts to form bonds and trust
A study of chimpanzees showed that they give each other food in exchange for receiving favors. And in the case of male chimpanzees, it was found that they gave food to females to be favored as a potential mating partner.
Researchers argued that besides the object of reproduction, chimps also gave gifts and food with the aim to improve bonds and trust.
#2 Cats bring their owners gifts in the form of dead animals to teach them how to hunt
Cats often bring dead animals to their owners. It is thought that this is their way of trying to teach their owners how to hunt. It’s the same thing mother cats do for their kittens.
In a way, your cat wants to help you to survive in this world by showing you how to kill prey.
So next time your cat brings you a dead mouse, don’t get angry with him. Instead, thank him for his thoughtful action 😉
Fun facts about gifts around the world
#3 In Maori culture it is believed that the gifter’s life force is connected to the gift
In Maori culture, a gift includes part of the gifter’s essence and because of this, each gift should be followed by an action of reciprocity to the original giver. There is no time limit and it’s not about the value of the gift, but it’s about the spirit.
Because of this reciprocity, if a gift is passed on from one receiver to the next receiver, it’s the essence of the original gifter that is passed on. So the final receiver owes the original gifter. Even if they’ve never met.
#4 You should not give green hats to men in China
(China Culture Corner)
I’m not sure how often you’ve considered gifting a green hat, but if you ever do, make sure you do not give it to a Chinese man.
Green hats signify that the wife is cheating on the man, so not quite the signal you want to be giving with your gift (unless you do, in that case, by all means, give a green hat).
There are a few different theories about where this symbol of the green hat comes from. One is that green hats were worn by soldiers who had no idea if their wives at home were faithful or not.
A second theory is that of the affair between a woman and a cloth seller. The story goes that made a green hat for her to be given to her husband. Whenever the cloth seller would see the husband walking around with the green hat, he knew he could visit the woman at her home.
Whatever the reason behind this, make sure you avoid green hats. For unique Chinese gifts, check out the China gift guide.
For more fun facts about presents in China, check out the next item!
#5 Other gifts to avoid in China are clocks, pears, umbrellas, and handkerchiefs
(China Culture Corner)
China is a country with quite a complex gifting etiquette. So before you bring a gift to a Chinese family, make sure to ask someone who’s familiar with these rules whether your gift is appropriate.
A few gifts which you should definitely avoid are clocks (though watches are fine), handkerchiefs, and straw sandals. These gifts are associated with death, so they do not really make a loving gift.
Two other gifts to avoid are umbrellas and anything related to pears because it signifies that you want the relationship to end.
I am not sure how many people actually consider gifting pears or anything related to pears. But in case you were just about to wrap a pear and give it to a Chinese person, don’t.
Unless you want the relationship to end, of course. In that case, a pear is a great way of ending the friendship without having to say so with words.
#6 In Japan it’s common to refuse a gift before accepting
In Japan (and other countries, as we will see later on in these fun facts about gifts), it’s common to refuse a gift two times before finally accepting it.
It’s a sign of modesty and respect.
It’s quite a difference if you compare it to many western cultures, where gifts are accepted and opened instantly after receiving. I’m not saying one is better than the other, but I can imagine it coming across as rude to someone who is used to refusing gifts and opening them in private.
For more fun facts about presents in Japan, check out #9
#7 The Irish also refuse gifts before accepting
Another country where it’s common to refuse a gift before accepting is Ireland. This etiquette probably came from the Great Famine when families couldn’t actually afford gifts. Refusing gave the giver a polite opportunity to keep the gift if they couldn’t afford it.
#8 In South Korea, receivers’ names are never written with a red pen
Were you planning on giving a card to a South Korean friend or family member?
Just remember to not write their name with a red pen on the envelope. In South Korea, a name in red ink is associated with death. It’s used for people who have passed away. Or death or bad luck will fall upon the person soon.
Not really the kind of message you wish to send with your gift.
By the way, did you know that more than half of the givers usually add a note or card with their gift? Yeah, I learned that when I was writing my gift statistics post.
#9 Japanese bring souvenirs for friends, family, and co-workers to apologize for their absence
(Go Go Nihon)
In Japan, the word souvenir is omiyage. And the omiyage culture in Japan is quite different from the souvenir culture in many western countries.
Souvenirs for western people are often treated as a memory for themselves. In Japan, omiyage is bought for someone else.
It’s mostly something edible that represents the place it’s from, such as stroopwafels from the Netherlands. And they should be nicely wrapped.
Omiyage are bought for friends, family, and co-workers and it’s really frowned upon if you don’t bring a souvenir. It’s an important way to maintain harmonious relationships, and it’s a sign of respect and appreciation for those who stayed behind.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to buy a single souvenir for each co-worker. One or two packages with cookies to serve all colleagues is fine. As long as you have enough for everyone, of course!
#10 In many countries it’s considered rude to open gifts in front of the giver
Depending on where in the world you are from, you are either thinking “Well of course you don’t open a gift in front of the giver, that’s common sense”. Or you’re thinking “huh, why wouldn’t you open it right away, they can see my reaction and I can thank them straight away”
Just as with all these fun facts about gifts, neither one is right or wrong. You just have to know the gift etiquette when you’re in a different country.
In many Asian countries, receivers open gifts when they are alone. It is considered rude if you open it straight away. Partly, so that the giver and receiver don’t lose face in public. For example, if the receiver doesn’t like the gift. And partly to prevent people from comparing the value of gifts. So givers don’t feel embarrassed if their gift was less valuable.
Some countries where this is the case are Thailand, China, Japan, and India.
However, in many western countries, it’s considered impolite to not open a gift immediately. It’s interpreted as if you are not interested. And givers often want to see the receiver’s reaction to the gift.
So again. Neither one is better than the other, they are just fun facts about gifts which are good to know if you are in a different country.
#11 In the Netherlands it is common to ask a receiver what he or she wants
If you ever invite a Dutch person to your birthday or Christmas, there is a possibility that they will simply ask you what gift you would like.
I am a Dutchy myself, so this is one of the fun facts about gifts which I find very normal. But I can imagine how this may seem interesting to people from different countries.
It kind of takes away the surprise of a gift. And for the givers, it takes away the pleasure of finding a perfect gift. (Although not everyone may consider looking for gifts pleasurable).
But it does prevent gifts from being returned. Or worse, unused. And if you check out the fun fact about gifts #19 you will see that it actually makes sense to ask what someone wants.
#12 It is considered bad luck to give a gift before someone’s actual birthday in Germany
In Germany, people don’t wish each other a happy birthday before the actual date. Nor do they celebrate their birthday or give gifts before the date.
Let’s say your birthday is on Monday.
In many countries, it’s quite common to celebrate your birthday the weekend before that Monday. Most people prefer to have a party on the weekend rather than on Monday.
However, if you decide to do that in Germany, don’t be surprised if you don’t receive any presents or premature happy birthday wishes.
It’s considered bad luck (or jinxing) when you celebrate your birthday before the actual date.
#13 Gifts are wrapped twice in Egypt
One of the fun facts about presents in Egypt is that they often wrap gifts twice in different colors.
Fun facts about gifting occasions
#14 In Japan, women buy Valentine’s Day gifts for men
For the feminists out there, here is a fun fact about presents in Japan.
On Valentine’s Day, it is common for women to buy chocolate for men in Japan, rather than the other way around.
However, the roles are equally divided.
Exactly one month later, on the 14th of March (my birthday, this fact does not add any value, but I still wanted to share), it’s the man’s turn to buy a gift for a woman on White Day.
#15 Books are the most popular Christmas gifts in Iceland
In Iceland, there is a tradition called Jolabokaflod (or in English Christmas book flood). It’s the release of new books a few months before Christmas. The books are then preordered to be given out as gifts for Christmas.
This is why books are the most popular Christmas gifts in Iceland.
I love reading and gifting books, so I can completely relate to this fun fact about presents.
#16 Firewood used to be the most popular housewarming gift
The term housewarming used to be quite literal.
In the past, visitors brought firewood if they came to a housewarming party to be used for the fire and literally, warm the new house.
Fun facts about presents
#17 People prefer gifts that are nicely wrapped
This is one of the fun facts about presents that will convince you to nicely wrap each gift from now on.
Several studies have shown that people prefer gifts that are nicely wrapped over an unwrapped gift from, let’s say, a plastic bag. Even if it’s the same gift.
So remember, presentation matters!
#18 Experiential gifts are better for strengthening relationships
(Journal of Consumer research)
This is one of the fun facts about presents that supports something I have always believed too. That gifting experience is more fun than physical gifts.
This study showed that experiential gifts were better at strengthening the relationship between the giver and the receiver. Interestingly, it didn’t even matter if the real-life experience was enjoyed together with the giver or not.
So rather than giving material gifts, go for concert tickets, flights, museum visits, sports tickets, or eating out. Just anything that’s an awesome experience!
#19 Receivers appreciate solicited gifts more than givers think
(Journal of Experimental Social Psychology)
This is one of the fun facts about presents that supports the notion of the Dutch to simply ask what someone wants (#11).
Researchers have shown that, contrary to what gift-givers think, solicited and unsolicited gifts are not equally appreciated by receivers.
Gift givers think unsolicited gifts are considered more thoughtful and considerate, but it turns out this is not the case.
#20 Adding a small gift to an expensive gift devalues the expensive gift (in the eye of the receiver)
Here is another one of the fun facts about presents to remember if you want people to appreciate your gifts more.
Less is more.
Do not add a small gift to an expensive gift. In the eye of the giver, adding a small gift makes the gift even better. However, there is something called the presenter’s paradox.
And it basically means that the small gift devalues the expensive gift because the receiver makes up an average of the two.
It’s like giving expensive caviar and then adding plastic cutlery to eat it with.
Fun facts about the benefits of gifting
#21 The joy of gifting lasts longer than receiving gifts
(Association for Psychological Science)
I love it when research supports the fun facts about presents.
Studies have shown that the joy one feels after giving a gift lasts longer than the joy one feels when receiving a gift.
Isn’t that awesome?
We all knew giving is better than receiving. And now science has proved that it even feels better for a longer period of time.
#22 Giving is good for your brain and social relationships
This is another example of research that supports the fun facts about presents.
Giving gifts has been shown to improve interpersonal relationships and improve brain function by increasing brain connectivity mechanisms. Meaning that you and the receiver can work better together.
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Fun facts about presents sources
- Alliance magazine
- Association for Psychological Science
- China Culture Corner
- Country Living
- Cultural Atlas
- Go Go Nihon
- Gwangju News
- Journal of consumer research
- Journal of experimental social psychology
- Live Japan
- New York Times
- Nihongo Master
- Pocket Cultures
- Psychology Today
- The Atlantic
- The Guardian
- Xperience Days