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Joy of Giving: Why Do We Exchange Gifts at Christmas?

  • 25 Dec 2020
Joy-of-Giving-Why-Do-We-Exchange-Gifts-at-Christmas

When its Christmas, almost everyone (especially kids) are excited about one thing, GIFTS! It's almost like a ritual to exchange gifts at Christmas whether or not you are celebrating. While the Christians engage in gift exchanging as part of the celebrations, the millennials who work in office actually do it for fun and even named it 'Secret Santa'.
 
If you want to know how Santa Claus was associated with Christmas, click here: This is the Legend Behind Santa Claus

There are many stories, myths and even accounts of history on why exchanging gifts became a crucial part of celebrating Christmas. Let's take a look at some of them:

1. Gifts Presented to Jesus by the Wise Men

According to Christianity, Christmas itself was God's gift to mankind in the form of Jesus (as it was His birthday).
 
It's believed that when Jesus was born, a group of men (known as The Wise Men) travelled far to present Him with gifts. When they finally met Him, the group bowed and presented Jesus with Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Hence, the gift-giving practice began as to honour, love and respect one another.

2. Originates from Pagan Rituals


Another account believes that the origins of the gift-giving dated way back to the Pagan rituals. Paganism is 'merely a religion other than one of the main world religions' and many Christmas rituals have been adapted from the Pagans such as the gift-giving. In Northen Europe, a group of young men would go house from house to get goods during the holiday season. With time, the practice became more personal and among family and friends.

3. Marcel Mauss Says Gift-giving Was an Obligation

A French anthropologist explained gift-giving in his book ‘The Gift’. Basically, giving gifts were not voluntary, he said it was an obligation as part of the societal culture. If you or your family members don’t exchange gifts properly, you even ‘risk losing honour, moral authority and wealth’.
 
A simple example, if your children don’t appreciate plain-looking sweaters their aunt got them, it will reflect poorly on you as a parent. According to Mauss, gift giving was not about the ‘gifts’ but about your spiritual significance and social standing.
 
So, now that you know, we hope you will have a more meaningful gift exchanging session or 'Secret Santa' this year at Christmas. Merry Christmas!
 
If you find any other reasons for the gift exchange at Christmas, let us know on Astro Ulagam Facebook or Instagram.

Source: The Atlantic, The Guardian, CS Monitor, Why Christmas, Forbes
Photo Credit: Ancient Pages, Gov Book Talk, RD, Gift Healthy Marriage



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