9 Things You Shouldn't Give as Wedding Gifts

Cultural Superstitions About Wedding Gifts Abound Around the World

Cutting board with knife
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Passed down for generations, deeply ingrained cultural superstitions continue to influence the type of wedding gifts guests should present to the bride and groom. 

However, most jinxed gifts can be offset by attaching an amulet that wards off negative energy. Oftentimes, this is a token penny that is taped to the object, which the recipient should return to the gift giver so that they effectively buy the item.

Sharp Objects

A nearly universal superstition throughout Europe, Asia and South America, any item with a blade or sharp end is believed to possess the power to severe a relationship. Knife sets, scissors, can openers, umbrellas and even table knives can create a chasm in the friendship between the recipient and the giver as well as generate chaos in a marriage. An umbrella is never given as a present in China as the Mandarin word sounds like the word for "split up."


In China and Taiwan, the word clock sounds like the word death. Clocks tick away, marking the time one has left in this world. Similarly, watches and candles represent a limited life and can invite death into the home when given as a gift. This same superstition appears in Ukrainian, Korean, Japanese 


Due to their fragility and the resulting bad luck that occurs when one is broken, most Asian cultures shun mirrors as an appropriate gift for newlyweds since a marriage is meant to last a lifetime. Beliefs also abound that harmful spirits can become trapped in mirrors and that looking glasses encourage vanity and selfishness.


Cash gifts for the newlyweds are expected in many cultures, including the Jewish, Hindu and Chinese communities. However, the money must end in a lucky number and be presented in an auspicious envelope in order to bestow good fortunes and prosperity on the couple. 


Glassware is a popular wedding gift, but a Thai superstition says that relationships can shatter when the glass breaks. However, breaking glass is a common ritual in many cultural marriage ceremonies because the number of shards represents how many happy years the couple will have together. When attending an Italian, Jewish or Czech weddings, you are likely to hear joyous cheers accompanying the pop of glass. 


Handkerchiefs should never be presented to brides in most Asian and Pacific Islander cultures since the small square of cloth is said to invite a lifetime of tears from sorrow, sweat from hard work and sickness from ill health. The Chinese word for handkerchief sounds like the word for farewell, so the cloth tissue has the power to break up a new marriage.

However, Catholic brides are often presented with a lace handkerchief that they carry down the aisle and later convert into a bonnet for the christening of their children. The hankie becomes a family heirloom, passed down as something old to carry on the child's wedding day.

Suitcases and Shoes

While a durable designer set of luggage seems like the perfect gift for newlyweds to use on their honeymoon, many cultures believe giving a suitcase as a present opens the door for that person to walk right out. Filipinos, Chinese and African Americans hold similar beliefs about shoes.


Flowers are an important decorative element of weddings throughout every culture, and in some ethnic groups, entire halls are filled with floral presents to bless the newlyweds with fortune and harmony. However, each culture has superstitions about the meaning of specific flowers. In the Latino community, red flowers of any kind are believed to have the power to cast evil spells while white flowers can cast good spells. In contrast, white flowers are only given at funerals in the Chinese community. Be sure to research beliefs before presenting a bouquet as a wedding gift.

In addition to the color and type of flower, superstitions exist about the number of flowers. In most cultures, bouquets should contain an odd number of stems. However, gifting 13 flowers is considered bad luck.