Gift giving is a way to show gratitude and love. And the simple fact of giving and receiving is a great way for people to show they care. A gift exchange can elevate the happiness of both the gift giver and the recipient. There is nothing like the joy of giving a gift.
It’s amazing how many occasions there are where people give presents. If you think about it there is Christmas, Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, engagements, baby showers, graduations, bar mitzvah, housewarming and so much more.
Giving gifts is an ancient tradition. And it dates back to before the bounty exchanged in pagan rituals. People gave gifts like home-grown vegetables or shells found on the beach.
The Trojan Horse- The Gift No One Wanted
Perhaps, the Trojan Horse is the most deadly gift in history. And it started with the custom that, when a general was defeated he sent a horse to the victor, as a sign of surrender.
After a decade-long siege by the Greeks, they pretended to withdraw from the City of Troy. Before they left, they built a huge wooden horse and left it at Troy’s gates. The Trojans assumed this was a “surrender” horse. And they brought it inside their gates.
When night fell, the Greek soldiers came out of the horse to open the gates for their army and defeat the Trojans. Accepting this “gift” meant the end of Troy.
Many customs of gift-giving were practiced across a wide variety of ancient cultures. Usually they didn’t involve giant wooden horses. But, diverse cultures, religions, tribes and countries all have a history of giving. The concept is fundamental to the human condition.
Christmas- The Gift of the Magi
Three wise men brought presents for the baby Jesus. These offerings were known as “The Gifts of the Magi.”
Christmas giving eventually developed into a tradition. However, it wasn’t until the 1800’s that Christmas became the biggest gift giving holiday. That was when, with industrialization, goods could be more easily obtained for exchange on special occasions.
Christmas presents are gifts given in celebration of Christmas. They are exchanged on Christmas Day, December 25. In the Western world children especially benefit from the celebration.
The Statue of Liberty-With Love From France
Eventually gifting from one-nation-to-another, became an expression of friendship and peace. France presented the U.S. with a colossal gift in 1886. The copper statue is 305 feet tall from its base to the top of the torch. It sits in New York harbor and is known as “The Statue of Liberty.”
The giving and receiving of some form of romantic love token dates back to medieval times. The Valentine’s Day holiday (February 14) has long been a time when lovers send romantic greetings and gifts. The custom developed from an ancient Roman festival (Lupercalia). And in the 5th century, Pope Gelasius renamed the celebration St. Valentine’s Day.
Lovers give valentines and gifts to the object of their affection. And sometimes on Valentine’s Day couples get engaged. In that case there is the gift of a ring involved.
From Diamonds to Hospitals: A Love Story Taylor-Burton
Elizabeth Taylor was a world renowned movie star. In 1969, her famous spouse, Richard Burton bought her the Taylor-Burton Diamond. It was a 69.42 carat pear-shaped diamond. This diamond ring was the first to ever publicly sell for seven figures. After they divorced Taylor auctioned off the ring for 5 million dollars.
She used the proceeds to buy a hospital in South Africa, Botswana. And explained her charitable gift with the statement, “They need one badly and I certainly don’t need another ring.”