The myth of gift-giving

Cultures across the world have their own stories in terms of what to give. Have you heard that in Chinese culture, you shouldn't buy your loved ones shoes? Or handkerchiefs and perfumes aren't the perfect gifts?

Yes. A pair of shoes, for example, symbolizes a journey. So, giving pair of shoes to your loved ones means you want them to walk away from your life.

A handkerchief, on the other hand, symbolizes sadness. Why? Simply because it's used to wipe tears.

Handkerchiefs as bad luck is a view shared by Venezuelan tradition. According to its belief, handkerchiefs cause fights between the receiver and the giver.

Sounds odd and superstitious, but such myths survive even today.

Giving perfumes to our loved ones is also a big no-no, perhaps the most popular among Westerners.

Believe it or not, according to the ancient Chinese and Greek beliefs, giving perfume causes relationship breakups. To counteract this, the receiver must give money to the giver.

Today, perfume is not the best gift to give. Why? Because it could mean: "Hey, you're stinky!"

Just like perfume, another gift that is believed to cause couples to break up is a watch. Giving a watch to loved ones can mean we think they're not punctual.

But presenter and public speaking figure Charles Bonar Sirait has his own opinions.

"I receive perfumes from my wife and friends," he says. "And nothing bad has happened."

He says people shouldn't let superstitious beliefs dictate them, since the essence of giving gifts is to show love. "As long as we have good intentions, that is enough."

But if you still believe in such myths, then perhaps the safest gift to give is, "Merry Christmas!"

- JP/Dian Kuswandini

Post Your Say

Selected comments will be published in the Readers’ Forum page of our print newspaper.