As I highlighted in my story, experiencing the gift giving norms of another culture can be delightful.
Wine / chocolates If you do decide to give a gift, in Australia wine is considered a safe, socially neutral choice.
Some people were not sure they wanted to give their supervisor a gift because the relationship was strained.
Others thought that giving a gift to a person who is doing their job is not appropriate in any circumstances.
It was pointed out that gift giving creates a sense of obligation and reciprocity, which can be awkward for a supervisor – especially if they have many students. Many people do not celebrate Christmas all because of their atheist stance, others routinely have their own religious holidays ignored by Australia’s Christian slant.
I’m not sure how you negotiate this social minefield, but perhaps, if you are unsure what is considered normal behaviour, ask the students who have been there longer than you.
Writing A few people told me they were giving their supervisor a conference paper or overdue chapter draft to read for Christmas. There is not a Christmas that goes by that I am not reading a thesis draft from a student or a friend (I’m looking at you Jason Downs).
I find the holidays a surprisingly good time to do this kind of work.
In Australia, being a non drinker is considered a weird thing (I know – it says something about our culture doesn’t it?
When I asked on Twitter what people were buying their Ph D supervisor I was surprised by the range of different responses.
Some people had no idea what to buy and expressed interest in such a post because the etiquette for this situation is so opaque.
O zpievaní a čtení českém tractat [A Treatise on Reading and Singing in Czech] by Václav Koranda the Younger: A Contribution to the History of Czech Liturgical Language Eliška Baťová (Prague) The musicologists, who study the use of communal prayer in the liturgical practice of the Utraquist Church in the Jagellonian period, mostly encounter a difficult obstacle the silence of sources in that regard.
1 A similar situation exists with respect to the use of the Czech language in liturgical song.