Christmas Gift Giving - the Tradition

Christmas Presents and Gift Giving - Origin

More than Santa, more than the elves, more than reindeer and Christmas trees and any other part. If you were to ask a child what he thought of first when he thinks of Christmas, he would almost assuredly answer, “the presents!” Gifts, it is argued is the most clear and present part of the holiday. Certainly the stores and businesses associated with Christmas consider it the most important thing, putting endless amounts of effort into advertising, deals, and planning for the Christmas season. But where did it come from?

Tradition holds that gifts began at the start, at the birth of Jesus. The three wise men, astronomers from another country, came to visit him, bringing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. However, as symbolic gifts to the person of Jesus, these did not seem to be the root of the tradition.

Instead, it is more likely that once again this tradition comes from the original Saint Nicholas. A bishop in Turkey in the 4th century, he was well known for his generosity, giving to children and those less fortunate than him. Because of his example people embraced the idea. Although, at the same time, it is worth noting that the Saturnalia festival, which Christmas was placed on the calendar to coincide with, had a long tradition of merriment and gift giving. Combining the old borrowed traditions with the new example to follow, and it is not a surprising result.

Whatever the reason, the presents tradition is beloved the world over. Some countries open the gifts earl, such as on December 5th for Holland, many wait until Christmas Eve or Day, and the latest may be as long as January 6th, the holiday known as Epiphany.

Gifts in stockings and shoes, wrapped boxes, and so many more ways exist for kids and adults alike to share in the joy. It pervades every part of the culture. Businesses create a Secret Santa in order to distribute gifts between employees without any stigma attached, while donation drives start every year specifically to give toys and gifts to the impoverished and unprivileged children of the world. So join in today, and give the gift of, well, giving!

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