For Christians, the gifts given at Christmas are a symbol of the homages that the Three Wise Men paid to the baby Jesus after his birth during the history of the Nativity. Christmas gifts are a time to surprise and delight those we love. People like to find the perfect gift. Once wrapped and delivered, the donor watches the recipient's happy face while unwrapping it.
Nowadays, one of the most beloved parts of Christmas is the gift exchange that takes place every year. Not only because of the joy of receiving gifts, but also because of the joy of giving them. Christmas is the only time of year for many people when you can show each person in your life how much they mean to you. Gift-giving is just another way to spread Christmas love and joy.
We give gifts to express our love and appreciation for others. Love seeks the supreme good of the loved one. Our motivation for giving gifts should be to do so in honor of the birth of our Savior, who gave us the most precious gift of all salvation. Most of the time, the supreme good is not received with expensive gifts, but with simple things of everyday use or value.
New American companies saw this as an opportunity to sell more products and began announcing the idea of Christmas gift giving as the norm. Many argue that Christmas would be incredibly different without the many advertisements and places to buy gifts for loved ones. The custom of giving at Christmas was a natural adoption of these and other seasonal customs, such as the ceremonial lighting of candles, songs of celebration and the celebration of big holidays. The hustle and bustle of the season sometimes hide the reasons for the tradition of giving at Christmas.
The battle for Christmas focuses on tensions between New York's elites and their working classes, but during this same period, a middle class began to emerge in New York and other northern cities, and the reinvention of Christmas also served its purposes. In addition, Puritanism was popular in the early United States and Puritans didn't like the materialism of gift giving and Christmas in general. The tradition of giving at Christmas is centuries old and reminds people of the magical birth of Christ in a stable long time ago. Sometimes these gifts are in the form of money, like a Christmas voucher; other times, in the form of gift vouchers.
Understanding why giving gifts to children (and, by gradual extension, to adults) became part of this new Christmas tradition requires expanding the story of Nissenbaum. That night, the children leave their shoes near a window (similar to the tradition of Christmas socks) to fill them with the gifts they asked for. Imports, such as Christmas trees and Santa Claus, helped make Christmas gifts a traditional part of the holiday. My great aunt occupied her usual place in front of the Christmas tree and meticulously read each name and whose gift it was.
If newspaper advertisements from the early 19th century that promoted Bibles as Christmas gifts for children are any indication, parents of this time seem to have maintained a similar approach to providing spiritual value to their children.