Survival Guide: Top taboos gifts NOT to buy a Thai…

Thailand is a country full of superstitions. While the majority of Thais believe in spirits, others live in fear of some fairly strange myths. Even the most forward-thinking, city-dwelling Thais have their doubts.

Giving gifts is a tricky matter, and it’s all too simple to get it wrong. Instead of being romantic and sweet, you may be stepping into the wrong territory. There are a variety of items that are considered bad luck in Thailand, especially if it’s for a loved one or a close friend. There’s also an array of traditional ceremonial items that, although appealing, are inappropriate as gifts under normal circumstances.

Printed photos
We all love taking photos, who doesn’t? You can see a lot of Thais taking selfies or photos when they’re out with family and friends, and also with their significant other. There is nothing wrong with that, but printing a photograph for a loved one is a different story. Why do we take a lot of photos when we’re on vacation? We want to have memories. It’s the same with printing out a photo for your Thai girlfriend. If you give your photo to a friend or family member, they might worry that you’ll soon become just a memory to them. (For example, funerals often feature large printed portraits of the dearly departed.) Some don’t care about this, but some will question your decision.

Buying a perfume may seem harmless and like a good gift to give. After all, buying a bottle of perfume from a well known luxury brand isn’t cheap, so what’s the fuss all about? Well, just as a photograph fades over time, perfumes don’t last long — the smell will fade away sooner or later. Take note, boys, You don’t want to buy your lady love a perfume that costs thousands of baht, for her to think that you want your love to fade away. Similar to what we mentioned about printing out a photo, some don’t care about it and will appreciate your generous gift. Just make sure to confirm before you make a pricey purchase.

Watches and clocks
Buying a nice watch, especially an expensive one, would make anyone happy. It’s an accessory that may people rely on ever day. A good-looking timepiece also tells a lot about the person who wears it. If your gal is someone who’s into sports, why not buy her a fitness tracker? If you want the “wow” factor factor with your hubby, a Swiss watch is sure bet. But the problem with buying a watch is that time runs out. All watches will stop ticking one way or another. A smartwatch needs to be charged every other day, while the standard ticking timepiece will eventually require a battery replacement. And a kinetic-charging watch needs your movement to keep it going.

Glass and sharp objects
While buying a gift made out of glass can be tempting, especially crystal glassware, it could be another potential gift to avoid. Indeed, there is are myriad cups and bowl with cute or classy designs that most women would love to own, whether it’s flowery printed mugs or a set of wine glasses for a special occasion. But as you know, anything made of glass can shatter. And you don’t want that to happen to your love life. They can also be dangerous. If the object is sharp, don’t pass it directly to the receiver. Instead, it’s wise to simply leave it on a tabletop and tell others to pick it up. Just like broken glass, it will likely cut the other person. You don’t want it to be foreshadowing your love life.

Black clothes and handkerchiefs
A handkerchief can be used for a few things from blowing your nose to wiping your face, or — you guessed it — wiping your tears. This’s why it’s on the list. We want you to avoid the appearance of bad luck. When you give somebody a handkerchief as a present, you are implying that you are expecting them to cry, and that they’ll need a handkerchief to dry their tears. As for black clothes, there’s a classic Thai myth that claims that if you offer someone black clothing, you’ll be attending their funeral.

Ceremonial flowers and incense sticks
Rounding off our list of taboo gift ideas are the a few common ceremonial items you’ll see on the street. In Thailand, proper flower shops are few and far between. Most streetside vendors are selling their goods for specific religious purposes and should not be repurposed as gifts to Thai people. Purple flowers or white lotus flowers wrapped in pandan leaves are given to monks to make merit, while garlands of yellow chrysanthemums are used to honor parents and elders on special occasions. And the small garlands made of “dokra” crown flowers are usually hung from objects like the rear view mirrors of busses and taxi cabs. Incense sticks are normally used in Buddhist ceremonies, such as worship and funerals — not to fill one’s home with a nice scent. And like a clock that stops ticking, an incense stick burns down — another potentially inauspicious symbol to avoid.

What’s your take?
So there you have it, out list of the top taboo gifts not to buy a Thai. The most important point to keep in mind is that everyone is different. Some Thais might not give a hoot about dusty old superstitions, while others still revere them as time-tested traditions passed down by the wisdom of past generations. If you happen to have a Thai partner, keep this list in mind the next time you’re gift shopping in the Land of Smiles.

Survival Guide: Top taboos gifts NOT to buy a Thai... | News by Thaiger


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Pete is a writer for The Thaiger, and he writes various topics from news, travel and property. His main focus is writing about Thai news, and what is happening in Thailand.

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