Just in time for the Holidays, Sophia C. says: “Asians like to buy vitamins and other such supplements in the U.S. and bring them to Asia as gifts. They love fish oil, Vitamin E, Vitamin B, Centrum Silver – and they must be American, American-made brands.” Hi Sophia! My family does this all the time when they visit our relatives in Asia.
Giving Vitamins as Gifts, or giving gifts in general; is very especially important in Asian countries. Vitamins, shampoo and other “American” products are often used as gifts in this day and age because they are practical (to us) yet unnecessarily extravagant to our family members in developing countries.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in Vietnam and China. In fact, we used to load years’ supplies of bar soap and shampoo for our family members in Vietnam when my grandparents would make their yearly visit so they could take them to our relatives. Why are these inherently “American” products to treasured in Asian cultures though?
In Vietnam, I’ve noticed a great deal of electronics named after American states; even donning stickers saying they were “made in a U.S.A.” While they were probably not made in the United States, they certainly conjure images of American freedom and class mobility– but let’s save that for another post. In the same way, expensive clothing and toys will also make sure your Asian family and friends are happy this holiday season.
With that said, there are certain guidelines to Asian gift-giving that should be followed:
2. Romantic gifts are generally avoided (Asia is already highly populated =P).
3. Clocks are considered a rude or unlucky gift in China because their word for “clock” sounds like “funeral”.
4. In South Korea, Japan, and China, gifts having to do with the number Four (ie. sets of four) bring bad luck. The number 13 is bad luck in nearly every other Asian country.
5. Finally: As a rule of thumb, the larger the Asian country, the less they will care if you forget bringing them gifts. In Japan, gifts are very important because of the proximity and accountability of your immediate family and friends. The same goes for Taiwan and South Korea.
Thanks for the submission, Sophia!
Do you in the SAPL family have any Asian gift giving tips or stories about your parents giving (or receiving) Vitamins as gifts? What would you recommend as Asian gifts for yourself or family and friends?
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