Gift-Giving Myths from the Orient
Give wallet as a gift
It’s believed that red wallets will bring lots of money and good fortune. These days, the color of your wallet is not as important, but only a few years ago people preferred red wallets over other colors. Red wallets used to be common gifts. If you intend to give a wallet as a gift, make sure to put some money in it.
10 or 50 dollars is sufficient and satisfies another level of giving good fortune. To go along with that, when giving back some kind of receptacle (such as a borrowed plastic container or cookie tin), it’s polite to fill it with food and not return it empty.
Ever get a handkerchief as a gift?
It’s a very old if uncommon belief that giving a handkerchief as a gift is a way of saying “goodbye” to someone. Keep in mind that in Korea, opening gifts right away is frowned upon and may seem rude. Koreans prefer not to show emotions in public, so it’s wise to ask permission first before opening a gift in front of the giver.
The thought behind that is the gift giver does not want to face the judgment of someone opening the gift in his or her presence. Interestingly, in western culture it’s considered rude to not open a gift when someone gives it to you.
Give the gift of red underwear.
There is an old saying that one should buy red “long johns” for one’s parents after receiving the first paycheck from your first job.
People tend to give other gifts to show appreciation to their parents, but the red long johns have an explanation. Back in the day, when floor heating was not as prevalent as it is now, people wore long underwear at night. Red-colored underwear was more expensive than the other drab colors offered at the time and therefore more desirable. Anyone who still observes this belief will probably buy red boxers, briefs, bras or panties for their parents.