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Christmas Gift Ideas and Traditions

Hanukkah Gift Traditions in Israel

Israel is a Jewish state, so the Jewish majority does not celebrate Christmas. They celebrate Hanukkah instead. Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights, because in each synagogue, a holy lamp burns above Jewish scriptures. The light represents a symbol, being the strength of God. The festival is observed for eight nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, and may occur from late November to late December according to the Gregorian calendar.

Hanukkah in Israel is celebrated by the kindling of the lights of a special candelabrum, the nine-branched Hanukiah, one light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night. Eight candles represent the days the oil of the temple lamp lasted and the ninth candle is a helping one, used to light the rest. The candles are lit just after the sun goes down and families sing a Hanukkah song while watching them burn.

During the whole festival Israeli people sing various songs and play games in the light of the Menorah. Among other traditions is playing Dreidel, a gambling game played with a square top with a Hebrew letter on each side. Most people play for matchsticks, pennies or chocolate coins. The traditional explanation of this game is that during the time of Antiochus’ oppression, those who wanted to study Torah, that was illegal, would conceal their activity by playing gambling games with a top whenever an official or inspector was within sight.

On Hanukkah in Israel it is customary to eat fried foods because of the significance of oil to the holiday. Latkes (potato pancakes), jelly doughnuts and many other treats fried in oil are particularly enjoyed during Hanukkah.

Like many other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah in Israel is a special time for families to be together, celebrate the festivities of joy and thanksgiving and exchange Hanukkah gifts. Personal gifts for Hanukkah are quite accepted, while before giving a business gift for Hanukkah you’d better wait until you are reasonably acquainted with a recipient. The safest choice is a flower basket, chocolate basket or fruit basket. When selecting a gourmet basket or a wine/champagne basket, make sure that your Hanukkah gift to Israel is compatible with the recipient’s religious beliefs. For example, gourmet gifts for observant Orthodox Jews must be kosher. If the recipient has children, acknowledging them with a small gift, chocolate or plush toy, will be also appreciated.

Show your consideration and respect while choosing a Hanukkah gift for your nearest and dearest or business associates and they are sure to be pleased with your choice!

Italy Christmas Gift Traditions

The Christmas season in Italy begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is four Sundays before Christmas. In the cold winter weather of the northern mountains and in the mild weather of the south, Christmas fairs feature fireworks and bonfires along with holiday music. Families go to the Christmas markets to shop for Christmas gifts and new figures for the manger scene. Some families set up a Christmas tree and decorate it.

During novena, the nine days before and including Christmas Day, children go from house to house reciting Christmas verses for coins. The family sets up its presepio, or manger scene, on the first day of the novena. They gather before the presepio each morning or evening of novena to light candles and pray.

On Christmas Eve, when the first star appears in the evening sky, every family sets burning candles in their windows to light the way for the Christ Child. They light candles around their presepio and pass the figure of the Baby Jesus from person to person, finally placing it tenderly in the manger. Then they enjoy a lavish meatless supper featuring fish or another type of seafood, vegetables, salads, antipasto, bread, pasta, and sweets. Later that night, everyone goes through the torch-lit streets on their way to Christmas Eve mass.

Christmas Day is reserved for church, family, and feasting. Some Italian children receive gifts from Baby Jesus or from Babbo Natale, as Father Christmas is called. Then everyone sits down to a big Christmas dinner. This often includes capon or another roasted meat. Pannettone, a yeast cake filled with fruit, and panforte, a dense honey cake spiced with cloves and cinnamon, are popular sweets, along with cassata, which includes ice cream and fruit.

The main exchange of Christmas gifts in Italy takes place on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, the celebration in remembrance of the Magi’s visit to the Christ Child. Children anxiously await a visit from La Befana, a kind witch who brings small gifts, like toys, sweets and fruit for the good and punishment for the bad.

Gifts to Italy are expected for social events and holidays, including Christmas. Italians love receiving gifts especially with prestigious brand names which are at the same time small and not obviously expensive.

Being big connoisseurs of good food, Italians would be happy to receive a fine gourmet basket filled with exquisite gourmet goodies. A good imported wine or spirits basket from your home country could be also an excellent choice as Italians are interested in learning about other countries. Such gifts along with healthy fruit baskets and classic tea/coffee baskets are particularly suitable for business gifts for Christmas, big gatherings and for men. For Christmas gifts to near relations, including women and children, the most appropriate are chocolate baskets, romantic baskets, spa baskets and flower baskets.

Show your creativity and interest when selecting a Christmas gift to Italy and it is sure to bring the recipient good luck in the upcoming year!

UK Christmas Gift Traditions

Christmas in Great Britain is the most popular holiday characterized by traditions that date back hundreds of years. The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season begins well before the holiday and there is barely anytime for a break until the Twelfth night. There is preparation going on of foods, sending Christmas cards, decorating houses and Christmas trees, and buying Christmas gifts for friends and family members.

On Christmas Eve youngsters hang up their stockings on the fireplace or at the foot of their beds for Santa Claus (also named Father Christmas) to fill them with Christmas gifts. Presents for the family are placed under the Christmas tree. On Christmas Eve groups of singers also sing carols to their neighbors.

On Christmas morning British families traditionally open their Christmas presents, attend Christmas services at church and prepare for the big Christmas dinner which is typically served just after midday. The table gleams with the best china and glassware, and there is a cracker at every place on the table. The traditional Christmas dinner in the UK usually consists of a roast turkey, goose or chicken with stuffing and roast potatoes. This is followed by a mince pie and Christmas pudding flaming with brandy, which might contain coins or lucky charms for children. The pulling of Christmas crackers often accompanies food on Christmas Day. In the afternoon the British pay visits to their neighbors and other family members and exchange Christmas gifts.

Personal Christmas gifts to UK including Chocolate Baskets, Romantic baskets, plush toys, Flower baskets, Spa Baskets meant mostly for women and family members are always welcome, whereas business gift giving is not a usual part of British business culture. To avoid embarrassment on the part of the recipient, the business gift for Christmas to the UK must be restrained, tasteful, and not ostentatiously expensive. Delicious Gourmet Baskets, healthy Fruit Baskets, and suitable for big gatherings Snack Baskets is a perfect choice for a business Christmas gift that do not appear patronizing or unduly forward. Spirits, on the other hand, are a matter of personal taste and best not given as a present. Champagne, though, is never unwelcome and can always be put quickly in the fridge for an after-dinner toast. Classic Tea Baskets is undoubtedly a good choice for any recipient regardless of your relations and will be accepted with gratitude. When selecting a flower basket, avoid red roses, white lilies, and chrysanthemums.

Show your taste and care when choosing a suitable Christmas gift to UK for important people in your life and you won’t have to wait long for their gratitude and response!

Australia & New Zealand Christmas Gift Traditions

In New Zealand, like its neighbor Australia, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer holidays. So, as well as present-buying and parties, families are preparing for trips to the beach.

Christmas festivities begin in late November, when schools and church groups present Nativity plays. They sing carols throughout the month of December. Families decorate their homes with ferns, palm leaves, and evergreens, along with the colorful flowers that bloom in summer called Christmas bush and Christmas bellflower. Some families put up a Christmas tree.

On Christmas Eve, people attend Christmas mass and on Christmas Day all families and close friends gather together from all over Australia and New Zealand for a Christmas midday dinner. As it is usually quite warm on Christmas Day, New Zealanders and Australians can eat their Christmas dinner outside. People usually have a picnic or a barbecue on the beach. Most families enjoy a traditional British Christmas dinner of roast turkey or ham and rich plum pudding doused in brandy and set aflame before it is brought to the table. The person who gets the favor baked inside will enjoy good luck all year round. In New Zealand some people have a traditional Maori hangi: they dig a hole in the ground and heat it with hot stones. Then they put meat and vegetables into this hole, cover the hole and let the food cook inside. The hangi is served in the afternoon or evening; after the delicious meal, people often sit around and sing Christmas carols.

Some New Zealanders cant get enough of Christmas–they celebrate it twice each year: on 25 December and in July, which is mid-winter in the country. So if you go to New Zealand in July, you may find hotels and restaurants fully decorated for Christmas.

The Christmas gift giving is a popular aspect of winter holiday season in Australia and New Zealand. Christmas gifts are usually wrapped in red, green or festive wrapping paper and placed under a Christmas tree, to be opened on Christmas morning. For children, a Christmas stocking is an early-morning treat; filled with small gifts from Father Christmas, the stocking is traditionally hung at the end of the child’s bed or from the mantelpiece above the fireplace.

Personal Christmas gifts to Australia or New Zealand may include any items according to the recipient’s taste. But when choosing a business Christmas gift, it’s important to avoid highly personal and expensive items that may be perceived as bribes. Gourmet baskets filled with items unique to your home region is a great choice as well as high-quality Wine/Champagne baskets and snack or fruit baskets suitable for big companies. Imported Chocolate baskets and romantic gift boxes with plush toys and flowers are perfect for women and children and as a romantic gift.

Approach the selection of the Christmas gifts for your dear ones and business associates with all the responsibility and don’t forget that your thoughtful choice is considered more important than the actual content of the gift!

Christmas Gift Traditions in Asia

The Christmas traditions of Asia are a collection of religious practices by different religions occurring during the holiday period. Only a small part of the population of most countries in Asia belongs to Christian faith, so Christmas is not so widely celebrated there. Places where Christmas is observed people mostly follow Western customs and traditions such as attending the midnight Mass, religious services, exchanging of Christmas gifts, singing carols, decorating houses and Christmas trees with ornaments, gold paper fans, lanterns and flowers.

In Japan there is no official celebration of Christmas as less than 1% of the population is Christian. Though there is an unofficial widespread secular observance of the holiday due to the influence of the American culture. Christmas in Japan as well as Christmas in South Korea is in the first place a commercial event, celebrated mostly by the young generation and lovers. Christmas in China is also a private holiday, since the vast majority of the Chinese people are not Christian. The main winter festival in China is the Chinese New Year called the “Spring Festival,” which takes place in the end of January. In Hong Kong, on the contrary, Christmas is a big holiday, because there are Christians of most denominations. Christmas in Malaysia is both a public and a religious festival. The local Christian community here making up to 7 % of the population, observes the Advent which is a four week period before Christmas. It’s the time for prayers, Bible reading and fasting. Christmas in Thailand is hardly observed since 92% of Thai are Buddhists. There is little knowledge about the true meaning of Christmas among this nation except some well-known European Christmas customs and love for Christmas shopping.

No matter how widespread Christmas celebrations in Asia are, they are considered incomplete without beautiful Christmas gifts. Christmas gifts to Asia is the ideal way to express love and care to your friends and loved ones, and people eagerly await the arrival of Christmas gifts.

Gift giving in Asia is an intricate and important practice. Before sending a Christmas gift to Asia of any kind, you must first establish a personal relationship with the recipient. Otherwise, the gift may very well be perceived as a bribe. It’s a good idea to select a modest, inexpensive gift so that the recipient won’t feel obligated to you. The mostly appreciated Christmas gifts are Items from your home country, foreign, prestigious name-brand items, imported high-quality Spirits Baskets and Chocolate Baskets or something that reflects the interests and tastes of the recipient, e.g. Flower Basket (avoid lilies, lotus blossoms, and camellias –flowers used for funerals in Japan), Fruit Basket, Spa Basket, Tea/Coffe Basket, Gourmet Basket and others. Keep in mind, that the Christmas gift should be beautifully wrapped. Do not wrap gifts in colors such as white, blue or black as they are associated with funerals. Red, yellow, pink and green are seen as joyful colors, and are perfectly acceptable for Christmas gift wrap.

Take some time to choose a proper Christmas gift to Asia and you are sure to produce a wonderful impression on the recipient and show yourself to good advantage!

Christmas Traditions in Russia and Ukraine

Christmas traditions in Russia and Ukraine are quite similar and have common roots. In these countries Christmas is considered the most important family holiday of the whole year and is celebrated solemnly and merrily, according to ancient customs that have come down through the ages and are still observed today.

Russian and Ukrainian Christmas is celebrated on January 7 according to the Gregorian calendar. The Christmas season begins with advent – four weeks of fasting and preparing one’s self for the birth of Christ. In preparation for the big event, the house is cleaned from top to bottom and the Christmas tree is decorated with various knick-knackery and sweets.

The Christmas Eve in Russia and Ukraine is called  ‘Sviata Vecheria’ (Holy Supper). Dinner table has a little hay on embroidered tablecloths to symbolize the manger of Bethlehem where Christ was born. Children announce the appearance of the first Star in the eastern evening sky, that symbolizes the trek of the Three Wise Men, and the dinner is begun.

The meal served for the Holy Supper is lenten, but festive. People usually cook plenty of tasty foods for this evening and there should be at least 12 different dishes on the table. Those must include ‘Kutia’ in Ukraine — the ritual food which is prepared from cooked wheat and special syrup containing diluted honey, grated poppy seeds, raisins and sometimes walnuts. And ‘Pagach’ in Russia – a large round loaf of special lenten bread, which symbolizes Christ – the “Bread of Life”. After the Holy Supper families go to church for the Christmas Mass which lasts until after midnight.

According to another custom people sing ‘Kolyadky’, Russian and Ukrainian Christmas Carols. This old tradition of caroling is carried on by groups of young people and members of organizations and churches calling at homes and collecting donations, also little gifts, fruit and sweets.

In Russia and Ukraine there also exist a tradition of ‘Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”). He is accompanied by his granddaughter ‘Snegurochka (“Snowmaiden”). According to a legend, he travels in a magical decorated sleigh drawn by three white horses, and delivers Christmas gifts to children.

Generally speaking, Russians and Ukrainians take pleasure in giving and receiving presents and spend a lot of money on them. However, Christmas gifts are not as common in Russia and Ukraine as New Year Gifts, though this tradition is beginning to root itself in these countries as well.

When selecting a Christmas gift to Russia and Ukraine for your friend or business associate, remember that a big impressive gift is the most welcome one. Avoid giving gifts such as pencils, pens, lighters (unless they are expensive), cheap wine or vodka, notebooks, etc. Beautifully decorated Christmas gift baskets is the most appropriate gift. These can include Christmas Gourmet Baskets, Christmas Fruit Baskets, as well as Wine Baskets and Champagne Baskets perfect for business and corporate gifts or for men. Chocolate Baskets and Flower Baskets are ideal for women and as a romantic gift. When choosing a Flower Basket make sure you have an odd number of flowers, as even numbers are only included in sympathy arrangements.

If there are children in the family you are sending a Christmas gift to, it is advisable to present them with a small gift, such as a plush toy or sweets.

Be lavish with your Christmas gift to Russia or Ukraine and your generous gesture is sure to be appreciated!

Gift Baskets Overseas Launches New Christmas Catalog in Over 90 Countries

International gift delivery company Gift Baskets Overseas has expanded its list of delivery countries to more than 90 and has launched its new International Christmas Gift Catalog with ample items for every recipient’s taste and every sender’s budget.

CAMBRIDGE, MA, November 6, 2009 – With the holiday season right around the corner, Gift Baskets Overseas offers a Christmas gift collection that is sure to make an impression. Along with expanding the delivery area to include more than 90 countries, the company has launched an updated and broadened Christmas catalog with many new Christmas Gift ideas for every person. Beginning with romantic gifts for loved ones and ending with business gifts for co-workers, bosses and business associates – there is something for everyone at every price point.
Asia, Africa, Caribbean, America, Oceania, Middle East or Europe – now it’s possible to send very reasonably priced holiday and Christmas gifts to any part of the world from one gift delivery company, saving you time and money. An array of lush flower baskets, rich chocolate baskets, fine gourmet baskets, high-quality spirits baskets, and wonderfully decorated tea/coffee baskets mean that you are sure to find a perfect gift to fit any taste. For the most discerning recipients, there is the option to create a custom gift basket that includes a person’s favorite items.

Around the holiday season, corporations and companies want to show appreciation to their clients and key employees. That’s where Gift Baskets Overseas comes in. With so many sophisticated corporate gift basket options in over 90 countries, the holiday season just got easier for international business owners!

“November and December can be hectic times for business owners. They are coordinating holiday vacation time and bonuses for employees while trying to select great gifts for clients, all the while ensuring that business operations are running smoothly. At Gift Baskets Overseas, we take some of the stress off of business owners by providing a large line of corporate gifts along with corporate discounts for bulk purchases,” says David Skol, Chief Gift Officer.

The online catalog makes for a wonderful one-stop shopping experience. You can quickly find gifts that are a perfect fit for everyone on your list. Whether you are shopping for your romantic partner, your boss or your nephew, will help you spread the holiday cheer.

Christmas Gift Baskets offered by are designed to bring warmth, comfort and happiness this holiday season. Check the new catalog to find the perfect gift that shows you care and helps transform the world of that very special person.

2009 Holiday Tips from Gift Baskets Overseas

About Gift Baskets Overseas:
Gift Baskets Overseas specializes in sending high-quality gift baskets throughout the world. The U.S. based company works directly with established, local florists and gift delivery companies, providing clients with secure payment options, online ordering convenience, and multilingual customer service representatives. Learn more at .

David Skol
Director of Marketing


[email protected]

Source: PR Web – December 1, 2009

Christmas Gift Traditions in Western Europe

Christmas is one of the biggest celebrations of the year for people belonging to the Christian faith. Western Europeans celebrate this wonderful holiday on December 25 according to the Julian calendar.

In the most Western European countries, the Christmas season begins with St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6. The day before children usually leave their boots on the windowsill or outside the front door and the next morning Nicholas brings gifts and sweets to the children who were obedient the previous year.

Family celebrations begin with the decoration of the Christmas tree a few days before the holiday. Spending Christmas with the family is very important for European people. On this day, all family members spend time baking cookies, having fun and preparing a big Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.

At midnight almost every European attends the Christmas mass. All the churches and cathedrals are magnificently lit and echo the joyful melodies of carols and bells. As a rule, small children do not attend midnight mass with their parents, but go to bed early to dream of their Christmas gifts. Before going to bed, they put their shoes or stockings by the fireside to get a gift from Santa Claus the next morning.

After the mass the main Christmas dinner is held. It is quite grand and a special meal of Christmas dishes is usually served, for which there are traditional menus in each country. An exchange of Christmas gifts among adults follows the Christmas dinner.

If you want to make an appropriate personal or business gift for Christmas for your friends or colleagues from Western Europe, you should know some simple tips.

First of all, keep in mind that gift giving is not something that is really expected in Western Europe. While seen as a nice gesture, it is more important to avoid gifts that will be perceived as bribes.

If you are choosing a business gift, it is necessary to avoid highly personal gifts such as clothing, perfumes, cosmetics and others. On the other hand, unique gifts typical of your country are welcome, as well as high-quality spirits gift baskets or tea /coffee gift baskets. A nicely decorated gourmet basket is also a great choice for such a big holiday as Christmas, when a lot of people gather together for a great feast. Depending on the recipient’s country, you can fill your gourmet basket with the food typical of this region.

When selecting a gift for a female colleague or relative, don’t forget about women’s passion for sweet, so, a chocolate gift basket or a fruit gift basket is sure to live up to her expectations.

No matter what Christmas gift you have chosen, it should be from the heart and only then it will bring the recipient good luck and happiness in the upcoming year!