by Ewa Nowogorski
When there is a holiday, there is an excuse to give gifts. When there is a special occasion, there is also an excuse to give gifts.
Gifts are a great way to build positive relationships with family, friends, and coworkers. It also show people you care about them. Besides weddings, birthdays, and other obvious occasions, there are some other lesser known events in which it is appropriate to give gifts.
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and White Day are 3 Western holidays in which gifts are given mainly to lovers in Japan. Small children may be given Christmas presents, and school age children may give each other small gifts during this time of year, but Christmas, especially Christmas Eve, is considered to be a time for couples to spend together. Valentines Day and White Day is the same, in which flowers and chocolate are mainly exchanged, just like in America. Although, White Day is a holiday not recognized in America.
While New Year’s is important for pretty much any person, as it marks the beginning of a fresh new year, in Asian countries such as Japan, it is especially important for family. During this time, nengajo, or New year’s cards, are sent out by every person to every single person they know. During December and early January, post offices are usually swamped. Giving New Year’s money to children and minors is also another gift-giving custom. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are required to give their younger family members money in a red envelope. Children love this holiday.
When a family member or friend is in the hospital and sick, gifts are usually brought to them to help them emotionally and spiritually. In both America and Japan, flower bouquets are a common gift. Potted flowers should not be given as it symbolizes that the patient will be in the hospital for a long period of time. In Japan it is also common to give fruit baskets with high quality fruit. Fruit are healthy, easily digested, and a great sugar fix, so it makes the perfect food gift for patients who are on a fixed, bland hospital diet.
Finally, one more instance in which flower giving is very popular is during grand-openings of stores. If you’ve ever walked by a store with dozens of flower bouquets but it didn’t quite seem like a flower shop, it was most likely the grand opening of that store. Extravagant flower bouquets are given to the store to celebrate the success of the opening and to wish for the future success of the store in general. These flower bouquets are some of the fanciest that I’ve ever seen. And having dozens of them in the store front sends a clear message to the neighorhood that there is a new store in town.