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Presents For a Russian – Learn When and What Gifts to Present to a Russian Person – Russian Holidays
So, do you think gift giving traditions can vary from country to country or are they mostly the same? Before we look at it further, let’s do a little test.
o Students in Russia usually bring gifts: candies, books, etc. for their teacher on the first day of school, September 1st. – Yes No
o Family members exchange valuable gifts during the Christmas celebration. – Yes No
o It is normal to celebrate your birthday both at home and with colleagues in the office. – Yes No
o When meeting close friends or relatives at the airport or train station, Russians bring flowers. – Yes No
o Men give gifts to women at work and at home for March 8, International Women’s Day. – Yes No
o The number of flowers given to a Russian for a special occasion is not important. – Yes No
So what is it to introduce and when is the right time to do it?
The eighth of March, International Women’s Day, is very special for every Russian woman. Men present women with various gifts; however, flowers are almost always mandatory. As a rule, no lady leaves without a present because the men at work organize small gifts for all the ladies in the office, dads buy something special for their daughters, husbands for their wives, etc. I’ve been living in North America for 7 years now, and I’m still anxiously awaiting this day and I always wait for a surprise from my dear (I will make sure to give him to read this article).
Along with Christmas, New Year is among the favorite holidays, but there is no real tradition of exchanging valuable gifts. It is the children who receive the gifts and there are many favors with a dressed-up Ded Moroz – Santa Claus, Russian Santa Claus and his granddaughter Snjegurochka – Snjegulka visiting the home on New Year’s Eve and congratulating the children.
Recently, it has become customary to give a young couple money in an envelope as a wedding gift. Just keep in mind that when going to a wedding, you should think seriously about the gift and let it be plentiful. The concept of a gift registry does not exist in Russia, so talking to new relatives will help you make a better decision. Bed linen, cutlery, crockery, etc. will be suitable examples for wedding gifts.
As anywhere else, gifts are given on a birthday, which is often celebrated not only with family but also with colleagues. The birthday boy or girl is the one who brings juices, wine, appetizers, while the others usually collect money and get one big gift from the whole group and, as always, flowers!
The attitude of Russians towards flowers is very special. You may already know that only live flowers can be given as a gift. It is not acceptable to give just one flower, no matter how beautiful it is. And always make sure you have an odd number of flowers – usually 3, 5 or 7. Even numbered flower bouquets are only worn at funerals. And don’t forget the color! Russians are a sentimental and symbolic people: white represents innocence, while red symbolizes victory. Yellow flowers are not often given as gifts because of the color associated with separation and betrayal.
On the first day of school, September 1, all students in Russia bring flowers for their teachers, which is a long-standing tradition. A friend of mine here in the US had a similar question when she sent her 7 year olds to school: Do they bring flowers to the teachers in the US for the first day of school? She chose to stay away from this Russian tradition and would stand out to others as someone trying to gain influence.
Now let’s look at what can be presented as a gift. Remember the Russian saying “The gift is small and love is everything” which means that it is not about the value of the gift, but about the love, attention, time spent to find the right gift. When giving a gift, we often say: “I know you like this particular chocolate/wine/perfume, so I decided to get it…” or “I notice how this color flatters you, so…” Every gift for a Russian is symbolic and should have someone meaning. If you pay attention and keep thinking about the person you are buying it for, it will be perfect, big or small. The love, attention and warmth of your heart will be the most cherished memory of every gift. Hmmm, maybe we’re all more alike than I first thought…
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