From the Heart: 50 Fascinating Facts About Unusual Gifts Given by People


26Thai pavilions

Thai pavilions

There are only 4 authentic Thai pavilions built outside of Thailand, one being in Madison, Wisconsin. It was a gift to the University of Wisconsin-Madison from the Thai government for the large Thai student population. The pavilion does not contain any screws or nails of any kind.

27. Emperor Hirohito of Japan was a huge fan of Mickey Mouse. He was given a Mickey Mouse watch as a gift during his special tour of Disneyland in 1975. For years, even on formal occasions, His Majesty was observed wearing the watch.

28. In 2000, 16-year-old Henry Cavill was an aspiring actor who had a chance encounter with Russell Crowe. Crowe sent him a gift box with a note saying "Dear Henry, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Russell." 13 years later, they starred together in “Man of Steel.”

29. Chinese Emperor Qianlong was in love with an Uyghur woman named Iparhan who naturally produced a fine fragrance from her skin. She was given as a gift to the Emperor and carefully escorted all the way to the imperial palace in Beijing, washing every day in camel's milk to preserve her mysterious fragrance.

30. Every Christmas since 1952 the US Air Force has airdropped gifts over the islands of Micronesia, making it the oldest ongoing Department of Defense mission and the longest-running humanitarian airlift in the world.

31Harper Lee

Harper Lee

A struggling young Harper Lee once received one year's wages as a gift from a friend with the note: "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." She used her time off to write "To Kill a Mockingbird."

32. In 2006, Russia gifted the USA a 9/11 memorial monument, which was erected in Bayonne, New Jersey.

33. Jim Croce's first album was financed by a $500 wedding gift from his parents. The money came with one condition; Jim must use it to make an album. His parent's rationale? Jim would surely fail and thereby abandon his dreams of becoming a professional musician to get a "real job."

34. For one day in 1940, a section of a hospital in Ottawa, Canada became international territory so a Dutch Princess (Princess Margriet of the Netherlands) could be born a full Dutch citizen (a requirement to be a Dutch Princess). Every year the Netherlands sends Canada a gift of tulips to show their gratitude.

35. 2 days before Christmas 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson paid a visit to Pope Paul VI where they exchanged unique gifts. While LBJ received a stunning 15th-century painting from Pope Paul VI, the pope himself received a foot-high, bronze bust of Johnson's head.

36Gift of Cows

Gift of Cows

The Maasai tribe in Africa gave a gift of 14 cows to America after hearing about the 9/11 attacks.

37. Central Park in New York is home to a 3500-year-old Egyptian obelisk. Weighing 200 tons, it was gifted to the US in 1877 in gratitude for the US not interfering in Egyptian politics.

38. Ferrari only produced 400 of their iconic 2005 Ferrari Enzo. The first 399 were sold in the public market, with the final 400th being gifted to Pope John Paul II which was then auctioned off for charity for $6M to help the victims of the 2005 tsunami in Southeast Asia.

39. Queen Elizabeth II has had a lifelong love for Corgi dogs. She was gifted her 1st Corgi, “Susan,” in 1944 for her 18th birthday. Since ascending to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth had over 30 Corgis, all descendants of her 1st Corgi Susan. The last descendant died 74 years later, in 2018.

40. Ernest Hemmingway was gifted a 6-toed cat named Snow White. Snow White's 40-50 descendants still live at his Florida home. Over half of them also have 6 toes.

41Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup

Canadians gifted a Norwegian coach over 5 tons of maple syrup for helping an Olympic Canadian cross-country skier after she broke her pole during a race.

42. Hitler admired Disney cartoons. He was delighted when Joseph Goebbels gifted him eighteen Mickey Mouse films as a Christmas present in 1937.

43. After Chairman Mao gifted mangoes to workers during China's Cultural Revolution, a mango cult developed, with workers preserving mangoes in formaldehyde and making wax mango replicas. Workers worshipped mangoes, holding processions that celebrated them and equating them with Mao's image.

44. Each person who becomes 100 years old receives a congratulatory letter signed by the President with a gift cheque of €2,540 in Ireland. This custom is called the "Centenarian Bounty" and also applies to foreign national residents of the country.

45. There is a monument to Nikola Tesla on the American side of Niagara Falls. The statue was a gift from Yugoslavia and commemorates the inspiration Tesla felt from viewing the falls as he went on to be part of the team that invented the first alternating-current hydroelectric power plant.

46Pat the Dog

Pat the Dog

Jennifer Aniston personally owned Pat the Dog, the white, ceramic dog statue in Joey and Chandler's apartment. It was a gift to her on the first day of filming and the producers of Friends wanted to use it.

47. Herbert C. Brown's wife bought him the book "The Hydrides of Boron and Silicon" by Alfred Stock as a graduation gift. The book was chosen...because - at $2 - it was the cheapest in the University of Chicago bookstore." In 1979, he won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with Boron.

48. While training for his role in "Django Unchained", Christoph Waltz fell off a horse and broke his pelvis. When he returned to the shoot, Jamie Foxx gave him a gift to make him feel secure: a saddle with a seatbelt.

49. The land for Blenheim Palace in England was a gift to the Duke of Marlborough for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim against the French. It is still owned by the English Monarch, and for rent, the Duke has to pay one French royal flag on the anniversary of the battle.

50. In 1876, Abdul Hamid II, the Sultan of Turkey gave marijuana to the United States as a gift. By 1880, Turkish smoking parlors were opened all over the northeastern U.S.