The tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas is almost as old as the holiday itself, dating back to the early 1300s.
The Christian Orthodox monks and nuns started to commemorate Christ’s birth similarly to other holidays in honour of pagan gods like Saturnalia and Mithraism. However, in the Western Christian world, the custom has been extended beyond the religious community and into society, becoming an essential part of many people’s traditions during this time of year.
You’ve probably heard the story of the first Christmas when Jesus was born and laid in a manger. But did you know that the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas is almost as old as the holiday itself? It dates back to at least 1300AD and beyond.
The tradition started with an act of kindness from some Christians who were persecuted by Roman authorities during Emperor Diocletian’s rule. They prayed for their persecutors’ conversion on December 25th-the day they observed Christ’s birth-and then gave them food and presents in secret following Mass on December 26th. It was to show God’s love for everyone regardless of whether or not they accepted Christianity.
What is Christmas?
The word Christmas comes from the Middle English Cristemasse, derived from Old English Crīstesmæsse, a phrase first recorded in 1038 (as Christes mæsse) referring to the celebration of Christ’s Mass. Another contributing factor to this event being called Christmas is it happened during the Roman Saturnalia celebrating Saturnus, the god of agriculture.
The Romans celebrated this festival from December 17th to the 24th, which coincides with the current Christmas season and is still reflected in our traditions today.
Why do we give gifts on Christmas?
The tradition of exchanging gifts on Christmas is almost as old as the holiday itself, dating back to at least the early 1300s. Gifts were given to children by St. Nicholas (the patron saint of children), who would go down chimneys and put them in stockings if they had been good that year.
Although the Dutch and British did not have a specific gift-giving tradition at Christmas, they still exchanged gifts on their holidays: New Year’s Day for the Dutch (as early as 1560) and Boxing Day for the British.
It was common for companies to give out free food or small tokens to their employees at this time. They were also encouraged to drink, so the employers could make sure they only stayed for one drink before heading home to their families at Christmas.
The Modern-Day Gift-Giving Tradition
Christmas is such a magical time of year. For Christians, it is one of the most important celebrations of the year. For some, the tradition of exchanging gifts at Christmas is almost as old as the holiday itself. The tradition dates back at least to the early 1300s and possibly much earlier.
The modern-day gift-giving tradition grew out of a medieval custom where people would give each other gifts to celebrate the Feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6th. Saint Nicholas was a real man who lived in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in the 4th century. He became a bishop and set up schools, and helped people during a famine there. The original custom was to give small treats like sweets or fruits to children on Saint Nicholas Day.
Today, the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas has grown into a vast industry. Billions of dollars worth of gifts are sold each year. But before even thinking about going shopping for those presents, there are some things you should consider first.
Things to Consider Before Buying Gifts
Giving gifts is a sign of friendship. So when you give gifts, you want them to be unique and meaningful to the person who receives them. Remembering that can help you decide what is suitable for each person in your life.
You want these people to know how much they mean to you. You have different reasons for giving gifts so that some things will matter more to you than others. Think about why you give someone a gift and what is most important to you when giving gifts.
Choose A Gift that Your Recipient Will Like
It’s the thought that counts, right? But if the person doesn’t like what you give them or thinks it is too impersonal, it may end up in a closet, never to be seen again.
If you are unsure what someone would like, ask somebody else who knows them what they would like as a gift. Or you could give something useful. Ask
yourself what they might need, and then give it to them.
Keep It Inexpensive, But Never Cheap
How much you spend is up to you, but some things are probably better than others regardless of how much you spend on them. If the person will like a gift, and if it’s reasonably priced in your opinion, that’s probably the best thing to get them.
But like anything else, it’s possible to take things too far. So don’t go overboard with gift-giving, no matter what you spend on a gift. If you want to give someone a significant and unique gift at Christmas, there is one more important step for you to take.
Make Sure Your Gift Is Thoughtful
When you go shopping for gifts, make sure they are something special if you make them yourself. First, remember why you like someone and things that are important to you in your relationship with them. Then try to focus on those ideas when choosing a gift, like giving handmade cards or mementos that show you care or giving books they would like.
Even if the person doesn’t seem like they need much, it’s always nice to give them a surprise gift just because you thought of them at Christmas. It can be as easy as picking up an inexpensive present and wrapping it for them.