Holiday Gift Giving Traditions Around the World

Last updated on March 7th, 2024 at 02:04 pm

Holiday gift-giving traditions around the world are as diverse as Remitly’s global customers. People in Asia, Europe, South America, and beyond celebrate these holidays with their loved ones.

We’ve put together a list of some of the most important gifting holidays throughout the year. Which one is your favorite?

Holiday Gift Giving

Saint Basil’s Day – January 1st

St. Basil was from what is now Turkey, and was famous for caring for the poor. In modern times, Orthodox Greeks celebrate St. Basil’s Day by giving gifts to children. Caroling and traditional sweets also mark the holiday. St. Basil is a bit like the “Greek Santa Claus.”

Epiphany – January 6th

Epiphany is January 6th, which is also called the 12th day of Christmas. In places like Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Nicaragua, the feast of the Epiphany is the more traditional day for holiday gift-giving.

It commemorates the day the Wise Men brought gifts for baby Jesus In the biblical Christmas story. It is often called Three Kings Day.

Valentine’s Day – February 14th

Valentine’s Day is a major gift-giving holiday in many countries around the world. In particular, romantic partners celebrate by bestowing loving gifts upon each other.

In the American tradition, Valentine’s Day gifts include things like chocolates, flowers, jewelry or stuffed animals. Couples often also celebrate by going on a date.

In other countries, the sentiment may be similar, but the practice may differ. For example, in South Korea, women give men gifts on February 14th, while men give gifts to women on March 14th.


In many Christain-majority countries, Easter is celebrated, even by the non-religious. It is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Traditional gifts on Easter include Easter baskets with candies, eggs (of the chocolate or hard-boiled variety), and other Easter bunny or similarly themed items.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated in many countries around the world. These holidays show appreciation to the mothers and mother figures–and fathers and father figures, respectively–in our lives. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifts are usually small and symbolize appreciation.


Eid comprises two holidays in Muslim communities: Eid Ul Fitr and Eid Ul Adha. Eid Ul Fitr is the day celebrating the end of the month of fasting (the month of Ramadan). Eid Al Adha is celebrated after the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Exchanging food or gifts and gathering with friends and family are integral parts of the tradition. Learn more about celebrating from afar.


Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates the triumph of light over dark or good over evil. This is a five-day festival with the exact days determined by the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika.

It is celebrated primarily in India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Sri Lanka by those practicing Hinduism, Jainsim, and Sikhism. People light up lamps, decorate colorful lights, ignite fireworks, and exchange sweets and gifts throughout the holiday.

Holiday Gift Giving - gifts

Feast Day of Saint Nicholas – December 6th

Feast Day of Saint Nicholas (also known as St. Nicholas Day) kicks off the holiday season in many parts of the world. St. Nicholas was a Christian noted for generosity. He sold off his possessions to give to those who were ill, in need, or suffering.

In honor of Saint Nicholas, people often celebrate this holiday by giving to others. It is observed primarily in areas near its Dutch roots such as the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Dozens of other countries that have a custom in honor of the saint also celebrate this holiday.

With so many countries observing this holiday in some form, the details vary, but people quite often give small gifts or food items. A fun tradition is where “Befana” gives gifts to children (per Italian lore) on the eve of this holiday.

Christmas Eve – December 24th (Ping An Ye in China)

While Christmas Eve is known around the world as the day before Christmas, its significance varies depending on where you are.

One tradition in Asia, specifically in China or Mandarin-speaking countries, is giving apples on this day. Because the pronunciation for peace and the word “apple” in Chinese is similar, apples became associated with this holiday and are said to bring peace for the new year.

Christmas – December 25th

While Christmas is surely the most well-known and most widely celebrated December holiday, different countries celebrate it differently.

For example, in Brazil, people often give gifts with fake names to conceal the giver until Christmas Day. In the United States, there is a tradition of hanging stockings on the chimney which get filled with small trinkets and gifts, leaving food out for Santa Claus, and placing gifts for others under the Christmas tree.

Giving Christmas gifts is one of the most common gift-giving celebrations in the world. Some areas focus more on the full month of December and use an Advent calendar.

Check out how Mexico, Central American countries, and the Philippines celebrate Christmas.


Also called the Festival of Lights, Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish festival celebrated by lighting an additional candle on the menorah each night. The timing of this festival depends on the Hebrew calendar. It begins on the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar, which is typically sometime between late November and early December. The idea to exchange gifts during Hanukkah is a newer tradition.


While most of the world celebrates New Year’s Eve with parties and fireworks, the Scotland tradition is to make in-home visits bearing gifts to bring good luck. It is said that the first to enter the home should arrive bearing things like whiskey, black buns, and shortbread.