Russians have strong gift-giving traditions. The presents vary on different occasions, often must have a special idea and be properly packed and given. There are also lost of superstitions about things presented as well as about suitable color and number of flowers. Russians are very concerned that their gift should be desirable and appropriate.
Like all women around the globe Russian women enjoy gifts and expect them to be chosen with care and consideration for woman's personality and preferences, express affection and be nice and stylish. Well-liked gifts for Russian Women include jewelry, perfume and cosmetics, handbags and silver pieces, kitchen and beauty products. However small unexpected signs of affection like a card or a flower presented without any special occasion would make a Russian woman happy. The attitude to gifts are well described by a Russian proverb (Дорог не подарок, дорого внимание) "It’s the attention not the present that counts". Those receiving gifts will often care more for the attention paid than for the price of the present. Thus a personal present to a Russian woman has to be thoughtfully chosen and not just bought in a rush in a nearest kiosk. In general Russians like to give and get presents.
There is a habit to give small things as a sign of consideration when you pay a visit, especially if there are small children in the family that expect something sweet and nice. A man would be happy to get a bottle of good brandy or vodka and a woman – with flowers or sweets. Coming from holidays also means bringing something as a gift back for the family members, friends and workmates. A perfume from duty free or a small piece of jewelry for a wife or a girl friend, a toy for a child, some small souvenirs like fridge magnets (of your city or country visited), stick pins for hats, your country's flag stickers, novelty pen, chocolate, scenic postcards, key chains or suchlike for friends and colleagues.
Be wise choosing gifts. To present intimate things is appropriate only if they are given by a really close person. Underwear, clothes and some specific things can also be given to close people. Ludicrous and unnecessary gifts will often prove offensive irrespectively of those who have made them. Sanitary and hygiene items or personal wash products are not considered appropriate to give as a gift. One has to be also careful with beauty products unless the person you give it to asked for it specially, otherwise it may easily become an unwanted gift.
It is not generally accepted to leave a price tag on the items one presents. Most Russians would consider this tacky and remove the prices unless it is physically impossible. The gifts are not expected to be refunded or exchanged. Moreover it would be considered offensive for the one who gave it. Thus Russians do not add a receipt to the present they give.
Russian holidays and special occasions mean different gift ideas.
Women’s Day (8th of March) is a key holiday for Russian women. For some girls it is even more important than their own birthday. Men present gifts to women both at work and at home for the 8th of March. Flowers are almost always obligatory on 8th March. As a rule, not a single lady is left without something nice as men at work organize small gifts for all ladies in the office; dads buy something special for their daughters, and husbands - for their wives. On Women’s Day many men make generous presents for their fair ones, which they see as a way of showing their love. "The sterner sex" tends to avoid verbal displays of their emotions and would rather express them via some bold moves.
Children are the ones to receive presents and there are many services with dressed Ded Moroz - Grandfather Frost, Russian Santa Claus, and his granddaughter Snegurochka - Snow Maiden - visiting homes on New Year's Eve and congratulating kids.
Most valuable gifts on birthday are normally received from family and close friends. Moreover it is customary to give a present to a person even if his or her birthday was months away. If a birthday is celebrated at work (which is quite usual in Russia) the birthday boy or girl are the ones bringing some teats, wine, appetizers, while others usually collect money and get one substantial present from the whole group and, as a rule, flowers.
St. Valentine’s Day is very popular in Russia now as well as the western practice to exchange valentines, small stuffed hearts and other souvenirs.
Going to a wedding party in Russia involves higher expenses then usual. One needs to think about the gift seriously and make it substantial. It is customary to present nice bed linen, a home appliance or a home interior and decot accessories. The gift registry concept is non-existent in Russia, so talking with newlyweds relatives will help to make a more educated decision. Recently it became a common practice to present young couple with money in an envelope as a wedding gift.
Russians attitude towards flowers is very special. Only live flowers in odd numbers, - usually 3, 5 or 7 can be presented. It is not acceptable to give an even number of flowers - even number of flowers bouquets are taken to funerals only. The color does matter. Russians are a sentimental and symbolic people: white represents innocence while red symbolizes love. Yellow flowers are not often to be presented as that color is associated with separation and betrayal. A widespread tradition in Russia - as in many parts of the world - is to give women flowers for special occasions. Boys are taught the importance of flower-giving from a young age.
Russians are superstitious nation. Many Russians consider giving sharp objects, like knives or scissors, as gifts, to be taboo. You can avoid this taboo taking symbolic little money, for example one Russian ruble, in exchange as if it is a trade, not a gift.
A purse or wallet given as a gift should contain some money, otherwise it will bring poverty.
Things bought for a new born baby (such as clothes, toys, furniture, etc.) should only be purchased after the baby is born; otherwise it is a bad omen. The same applies to birthday celebration and birthday gifts. They are not to be given early.
Never give a watch as a gift to a Russian woman. Time is running out on your relationship.
Russians like to make presents. One may find it strange if a host offers you the thing you just commented on and showed your liking for. It should be treated as a sign of Russian hospitality, the attempt to do something nice for you. However being offered something doesn't necessarily mean you should accept it. You should refuse the present several times to be polite and if finally you take it, it would be good to make a return gift even if it is not necessarily expected.
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