Flower etiquette around the world
If you’ve got a fancy international business trip coming up or you’re getting ready for your next big vacation, you’re sure to be introduced to some important clients or generous hosts you’ll want to impress or thank appropriately.
Use these tips to avoid accidentally snubbing your dinner host with funeral flowers!
China: Avoid the number four, as it’s associated with death (plus an arrangement with only four flowers sounds like its own kind of tragedy!) Cut flowers are also typically reserved for funerals.
India: For almost any flower-giving occasion, brightly coloured flowers are a good gift (yay!) – but frangipani are considered funeral flowers. That said, you can and should bring flowers when you first visit someone’s home, but never to a business meeting. Sorry, business travellers!
Singapore: Three is a lucky number, but six is unlucky. The good news is that in Singapore, modest gestures are valued over extravagant personal gifts, so a tasteful flower arrangement is almost always appreciated.
Almost everywhere in Europe, odd numbers are preferred, but as usual, never the unlucky number 13. It’s generally appropriate to send flowers the day after a dinner party as a thank-you.
Germany: Don’t send white flowers unless they’re funeral flowers!
France: Similar to Germany, avoid white chrysanthemums, as they’re for funerals. Yellow is no good either, especially for romantic situations: it symbolises unfaithfulness.
Sweden: Flowers aren’t very popular as a hostess gift, so maybe skip them if you’re invited to dinner. (We know… tragic.) However, if you’ve been the recipient of an especially generous gesture and you’re feeling extravagant, flowers are typically seen as a flashy but appropriate thank-you.
Russia: We’ve got to give it up to Russia for loving flowers (almost) as much as we do. From the first day of school to International Women’s Day, it seems there’s hardly an occasion in Russia that isn’t an appropriate time to give flowers.
In general, avoid giving purple flowers, as they’re popular for funerals in many Central and South American countries. And as in most places around the world, giving 13 of anything is bad luck.
Mexico: An all-white arrangement from a highly recommended florist (do your research!) is a good idea to have delivered before a dinner party. Avoid purple (it’s for funerals), yellow, and red (it’s associated with magic – the bad kind).
Argentina: It seems the Argentines aren’t fussy about the symbolism of flowers – but it is considered rude to show up to a dinner party empty-handed, so don’t forget to bring some flowers to dinner.
Brazil: As in Argentina, it’s a good idea to bring flowers to dinner. As is to be expected, though, skip the roses – a dozen roses symbolise passion and should be reserved for romantic interactions. If you’re lucky enough to have one of those in Brazil, note that an early romantic occasion – such as a dinner date – usually calls for a single rose given before or after.
THE MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
In much of the Arab world, funeral flowers aren’t really a thing. And ladies – if you want to send thank-you flowers to a male host or colleague, it’s a good rule of thumb to send them in his wife’s name.
Keep in mind that flowers are not considered an appropriate gift in Egypt. Bummer :(
- Gaurav Makhija