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why do we give gifts to each other at christmas

The tradition of is an old one, but it became associated with
more recently. It is a relic of a pagan custom, namely, the which in Europe. This was celebrated in with gift-giving during the holiday, which took place that month. As became increasingly widespread in the Roman lands, the custom of gift-giving continued. Around the year 336 AD the date of December 25 appears to have become established as the day of Jesus's birth, and the tradition of gift-giving was reinterpreted and tied to the story of giving gifts to ; together with another story, that of based on the historical figure of, a fourth-century Greek bishop and gift-giver, it slowly became a part of Christmas celebrations. Some early Christian rulers, however, interpreted this story as indications that it should be their subjects who should give gifts to their superiors, and insisted on tributes and tithes during that period. This changed around the turn of the millennium following the popularity of the story based on the life of another historical person claimed to be a gift-giver,. Christmas gift-giving to superiors became less common, and around the time of the, customs of gift-giving to children became increasingly widespread in Europe.


The custom spread to the United States around the 19th century. This also coincided with the desire of some elites to reduce the rowdiness of adult Christmas celebrations, which in some places were tied to begging, as "bands of young men, often rowdy, would "wassail" from home to home and demand handouts from the gentry". Another related aspect was the growing desire by parents to keep children at home, away from the "corrupting" influence of the urban streets. Another relatively recent change concerned the time of Christmas gift-giving. For many centuries, gift-giving took place on December 6 around or in early January after. The popularity of this custom grew after the positive reception of the 1823 poem and the 1843 novella. By the end of the 19th century, replaced early December or January dates as the most common date for gift-giving in the. It is custom for one to open a single gift on the evening of Christmas Eve. [ December 25 wasn't always a day devoted to gift giving. In many different parts of the world, December 25 has become the ultimate gift giving day of the year.


Tied to the Christian celebration of Christmas, presents on this day are now a central part of Western culture. Yet, this tradition is actually rather new and wasn t always associated with December 25. Historically the day of Jesus birth wasn t celebrated on December 25 until the 4th or 5th century. There is some possibility that this day corresponds with Jesus actual birth, but most historians believe it occurred at a different time of the year. One reason it was moved to December 25 was a desire to Christianize a Roman festival that occurred during this time. From December 17 23, Romans celebrated Saturnalia, a feast dedicated to the agricultural god known as Saturn. PDuring these days Romans would give various gifts to each other. Similarly, the Roman New Year on January 1 was an additional day of gift giving in honor of the god Janus. Outside of Rome there existed Celtic traditions of gift giving that revolved around the Winter solstice and various pagans gods. These Roman and Celtic traditions were eventually Christianized and some preserved the custom of gift giving, but now in a Christian context.


Additionally, as Germanic countries were Christianized there also grew a devotion to St. Nicholas, whose feast was celebrated on December 6. He was known to leave gifts in shoes or stockings on his feast and this tradition grew in popularity. In other countries January 6 became a primary day for giving presents to each other in honor of the Magi who gave the child Jesus three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Then in the 19th and 20th centuries immigrants from these European countries came to the United States. At this time the popular figure of Santa Claus was born, highly influenced by the poemP Twas the Night Before Christmas P and commercial campaigns byPCoca-Cola. As the years passed the various traditions of these immigrants were combined into a new celebration of Christmas that focused on gift giving and the overnight arrival of Santa. While exchanging presents on December 25 is a relatively recent invention, many Christians have embraced it, recalling the gifts of the Magi, but also honoring the greatest gift given to humanity: Jesus Christ.

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