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"Memorabilia" redirects here. For other uses, see Memorabilia (disambiguation).
For other uses, see Souvenir (disambiguation).
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A souvenir (from French, for a remembrance or memory),[1] memento, keepsake, or token of remembrance[1] is an object a person acquires for the memories the owner associates with it. A souvenir can be any object that can be collected or purchased and transported home by the traveler as a memento of a visit. While there is no set minimum or maximum cost that one is required to adhere to when purchasing a souvenir, etiquette would suggest to keep it within a monetary amount that the receiver would not feel uncomfortable with when presented the souvenir. The object itself may have intrinsic value, or simply be a symbol of past experience. Without the owner's input, the symbolic meaning is invisible and cannot be articulated.[2]

Souvenir salesman, 4th of July. Washington, D.C.

Souvenirs as objects[edit]

The tourism industry designates tourism souvenirs as commemorative merchandise associated with a location, often including geographic information and usually produced in a manner that promotes souvenir collecting. Throughout the world, the souvenir trade is an important part of the tourism industry serving a dual role, first to help improve the local economy, and second to allow visitors to take with them a memento of their visit, ultimately to encourage an opportunity for a return visit, or to promote the locale to other tourists as a form of word-of-mouth marketing.[3] Perhaps the most collected souvenirs by tourists are photographs as a medium to document specific events and places for future reference.[2]

Souvenirs as objects include mass-produced merchandise such as clothing: T-shirts and hats; collectables: postcards, refrigerator magnets, miniature figures; household items: mugs, bowls, plates, ashtrays, egg timers, spoons, notepads, plus many others.

Symbol as souvenir from Chefchaouen, Morocco

Souvenirs also include non-mass-produced items like folk art, local artisan handicrafts, objects that represent the traditions and culture of the area, non-commercial, natural objects like sand from a beach, and anything else that a person attaches nostalgic value to and collects among his personal belongings.[4]

A more grisly form of souvenir in the First World War was displayed by a Pathan soldier to an English Territorial. After carefully studying the Tommy's acquisitions (a fragment of shell, a spike and badge from a German helmet), he produced a cord with the ears of enemy soldiers he claimed to have killed. He was keeping them to take back to India for his wife.[5]

Souvenirs as memorabilia[edit]

Souvenir Album of Houston, 1891

Similar to souvenirs, memorabilia (Latin for memorable (things), plural of memorābile) are objects treasured for their memories or historical interest; however, unlike souvenirs, memorabilia can be valued for a connection to an event or a particular professional field, company or brand.

Examples include sporting events, historical events, culture, and entertainment. Such items include: clothing; game equipment; publicity photographs and posters; magic memorabilia; other entertainment-related merchandise & memorabilia; movie memorabilia; airline[6][7] and other transportation-related memorabilia; and pins, among others.

Often memorabilia items are kept in protective covers or display cases to safeguard and preserve their condition.

Souvenirs as gifts[edit]

In Japan, souvenirs are known as omiyage (お土産?), and are frequently selected from meibutsu, or products associated with a particular region. Bringing back omiyage from trips to co-workers and families is a social obligation, and can be considered a form of apology for the traveller's absence.[8] Omiyage sales are big business at Japanese tourist sites.

Travelers may buy souvenirs as gifts for those who did not make the trip.

In the Philippines a similar tradition of bringing souvenirs as a gift to family members, friends, and coworkers is called pasalubong.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Online Etymology Dictionary". 
  2. ^ a b "Museum of the personal: the souvenir and nostalgia". 
  3. ^ The Design and Development of Tourist Souvenirs in Henan
  4. ^ "About me". Souvenir Finder. 
  5. ^ Reagan, Geoffrey: Military Anecdotes (1992), Guinness Publishing, p. 20, ISBN 0-85112-519-0
  6. ^ "Aviation and Airline Memorabilia". Collectors Weekly. 
  7. ^ "airline memorabilia - Bing". 
  8. ^ "Omiyage Gift Purchasing By Japanese Travelers in the U.S.".