Little bit of backstory: My colleague gave me a fancy looking chocolate (not a whole box) which I accepted saying "Thank you!" but then she asked "You are not asking, what's the occasion?". I did ask for the occasion afterwards.

Was I rude for not asking occasion before receiving as my understanding was that the person sharing chocolates should give reason for sharing. For example in case of my birthday, I would say "it's my birthday" while sharing chocolates.

So, should I have asked for reason first or the person sharing chocolate should give reason while sharing?

  • 1
    Just to be clear, this reads like you're wondering whether it's common courtesy to do the asking?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jan 4 '18 at 18:45
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    @Tinkeringbell I would say like whether it's common courtesy for me to ask first or for someone sharing chocolate to give information. Jan 4 '18 at 18:51
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    This question seems too opinion based for me. We can prove that from the premise of your question. Your coworker seems to expect you to ask what the chocolate was for. You expected that information to be provided. Based on your interpretation of the scenario; both of you think that you acted properly. Therefore, any answers will also depend on our opinions of what is right; and aren't on topic for that reason IMO.
    – JMac
    Jan 4 '18 at 18:56
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    @RamChandraGiri Are there cultural differences between you and your co-worker?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jan 4 '18 at 19:14
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    @Tinkeringbell We could say that as she is Magar while I am Bahun. Jan 4 '18 at 19:19

The only instance I would say "you didn't ask why" as a giver is if it's a fun reason they might not know. I would do it with a smile and the answer would be something small the receiver had probably forgotten about, like them going caffeine free for a month, or the anniversary of when we decided to be friends, not just coworkers. Frivolous, silly things like that. Although I do know people who ask the occasion for gifts before opening them (if not obvious), but I think it's more of a personal preference.


In general I would suggest that there are three scenarios with different requirements :

  • They were giving chocolates to lots of people. Then you can simply take one, say "thanks, what's the occasion ?"

  • They only offered a chocolate to you and they're a member of the opposite sex (or gay , possibly). Then it's a good idea to ask "What's the occasion ?" first to make sure this isn't a step on a romantic path you're not interested in. Don't be too pushy, but try and gauge their reaction, just in case it's more than a casual one.

  • It's someone you haven't got on well with or have had an argument with. They're probably trying to ease tensions between the two of you and just accept it and say, "Thanks, very nice of you. Is there an occasion ?".

So, yes, you'd always be expected to ask, but perhaps in a slightly different way for different contexts.

What you should also be ready to accept is a non-answer, something vague or even a simple "no reason". Sometimes people just do things and the "thanks" is the important part of your "duty" here.

Now, I'm a chocaholic and unless someone says something like "I just killed the boss and you're next" I'm going to take the chocolate and eat it. YMMV. :-)

Actually if I'm going to be killed by a co-worker, might as well go out eating chocolate. :-)

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    unless someone says something like "I just killed the boss and you're next". That's most definitely a situation I would take the chocolate - I'm not getting murdered without at least getting a final chocolate treat in my mouth.
    – user10883
    Mar 16 '18 at 11:54

Simply thanking the giver of a gift is sufficient.

If they would like to tell you their reason for giving it, that's their decision.

If you are really curious about the reason, you could ask, as long as you thank them for the gift first.

(US context)


According to Indian context, especially from a girl's perspective, they share chocolates with people who are close to them. If they share the chocolates and you are simply saying, "thanks", without asking for a reason, then it will be considered rude, according to the girl's perspective. But at the same time, if you feel that you don't have to ask the question because of discomfort, then you are also right from your perspective.

But at the end of the day, the behaviour of the human mind is that, if someone shares something with you without saying the reason, then the acceptor must ask the reason if he/she doesn't know. If acceptor is not confident about the reason for sharing, then he/she might ask the reason by asking the relevant reason for sharing. But you must ask the reason, if giver doesn't tell you.

  • "According to Indian context ... " possibly makes your answer Not An Answer (NAA) to the question, which is based on the culture in Nepal. Are you saying that the etiquette in Nepal and India are the same? Mar 15 '18 at 7:00

Just yesterday I received chocolate the same way. When I asked why, he grudgingly told me that is was his birthday and changed the topic. Same situation happened with other coworkers afterwards, so it was obvious he would have prefered us not to ask.

So apparently its not always expected that one asks. Still, despite the counter example, I will continue asking. 90% of the time its a positive reason, and something they want to talk about. So lets give them the chance ;)

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