by Ewa Nowogorski
Gift giving has been covered in the general and neighborly areas, but gifts are also given to people during weddings and funerals.
Firstly, let’s talk about gift-giving during weddings. In America, it’s common to give the couple-to-be something that they can use together in their future home. For example, a nice coffee maker, some fine China, small furniture and fancy kitchen utensils are some common gifts to give. Kitchenwares are actually the most popular gift to give in most states in the US. Depending on the couple, a list of wanted gifts will be given to the wedding guests, and guests will collaborate with each other so as not to get the same thing. This is considered rude by some, and it’s much more common in European countries. Money is sometimes given.
In Japan, money is the go-to gift, and other kinds of gifs are very rarely given. Again, this goes back to the fact that Japanese houses are small and people can be very picky about what they want. It’s also very rude to openly express what you want, as it comes off as greedy. Therefore, money is the peaceful solution. There is a standard of how much money should be given as well. 30,000 yen (around $300 USD) is usually the minimum requirement, and it is given in a special wedding envelope in 3 10,000 yen bills. Really poor families or young, single people can be excused for only giving 10,000 yen, as they clearly cannot afford to pay such an exorbitant amount for a wedding. Bills are always given in odd numbers, such as 3 10,000 yen bills, or 5, or 7, and so on. This is believed to keep the couple together, as they will not be able to split the money evenly if they were to separate.
In Japan, condolence money is also given during funerals. The envelope that you give the money in is slightly different than wedding envelopes. Giving money in the wrong envelope can be very offensive, although all Japanese people know enough not to mess up. An amount ranging from 5,000 yen to 30,000 is given during funerals, and it is usually used to help pay the costs of the funeral.
In general, the closer you are to the family during a wedding or funeral, the more money you are obliged to give, but you should never break bank just for a gift.