Why Do We Give Gifts at Christmas?
Like most people, you probably give gifts at Christmas somewhat instinctively. It’s also likely you receive plenty of Christmas gifts, which you’ll no doubt be thankful for and appreciate. But have you ever questioned why it is that we give and receive gifts at Christmas?
An important question that’s considered and investigated by comparatively few.
Contrary to popular belief, the tradition of giving and receiving gifts didn’t start with Christians or Jews. Truth is, history has provided evidence of most ancient cultures practicing the giving and receiving of gifts, so it’s impossible to credit one specific era or people with inventing the act.
These days, there are various occasions when we feel compelled to give gifts. The most obvious of which being a person’s birthday, when they receive gifts from friends, family and well-wishers in general. Christmas itself is a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, who was said to have been sent as the son of God to rescue humanity.
In essence, therefore, this means that Christmas is simply the most important birthday celebration for believers. Despite the fact that evidence suggests Jesus was actually born in the springtime, the fact that his birthday is celebrated in December is inconsequential. The idea being that just as long it is celebrated, it doesn’t matter when or how.
Still, this doesn’t answer the question as to why we give gifts to each other at Christmas. If it’s a celebration of the birth of Jesus, why has it become customary to exchange gifts between ourselves?
The answer - there are two explanations as to why we exchange gifts on Christmas day. The first of which being that to do so is to emulate God, who in the form of Jesus Christ gave the most precious gift possible to the world and its people. A selfless act for the good of mankind, which we replicate to a far more modest extent by giving gifts.
Secondly, there’s the story of the Three Kings - or the Three Wise Men - travelling huge distances to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Their gruelling journey and the offering of gifts to Jesus once again being replicated modestly in the way we exchange gifts at Christmas.
Whichever explanation you’d prefer, the exchanging of gifts at Christmas is an act of sharing, loving, helping and building bonds with those around us. Hence, it’s a tradition to be proud of and a custom to celebrate - wherever your beliefs lie!