Origins of Gift Giving
Gift giving dates back thousands of years as far back as man can remember. As human beings, we are social creatures who enjoy each other’s company and to express our feelings through the giving of gifts. Whether it is an expression of true love, appreciation of a job well done or just to show our gratitude for having someone as a friend, the giving of gifts is part of who we are.
The giving of gifts may be one of the oldest of human activities that pre-dates civilization and may go back to the origin of our species. Even in primitive cavemen culture, the giving of gifts was fairly common as it was used to show love and affection towards one another. The bestowing of gifts was also inferred as a status symbol when leaders of tribes or clans would show their appreciation for the contributions of those who were part of an important achievement.
Whether it was an unusually shaped rock, a tooth from an animal, the bark from a tree or some other item that was natural in origin, the giving of gifts was certainly common behavior long before we became an advanced civilization. As tools were developed, the gifts started to become more elaborate, for example, holes were drilled into animal teeth and stones so they could be displayed on necklaces and many other objects were fashioned as well.
Later during the Egyptian era, gifts were most notably given to their pharaohs who built massive pyramids to store their wealth for the afterlife and produced idols to support their beliefs of idol worship. In Roman times people would present each other with good luck tokens, which lasted for centuries and later influenced all of the Western civilization onwards. Such tokens of good luck were used as presents to carry favors and show allegiance, which is still the case today.
By the Medieval age, gifts were used to secure the personal favor of the king or show allegiance in times of war. Also, personal gifts of betrothals were given as dowries which ranged from coins to precious metals to a herd of cattle, goats or sheep. In many cultures, dowries and other similar expressions still exist today.
Today gift giving is still part of our everyday culture and defines who we are and the message we want to send with our gift. Gifts are given for all occasions and celebrations and are a means of us communicating with each other and expressing ourselves.
The Psychology Behind Gift Giving
Today, gift giving is spread across all cultures around the world, from celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, offering good luck, best wishes for getting well, showing love and affection, or just saying thanks. Gifts are given to family members, friends, those we work with and even neighbors who receive gifts of all different types. There are large industries dedicated to creating and selling gifts that allow people even in the busiest of times to find the right type of present to give someone for many different reasons and occasions.
The psychology of why gift giving is so rewarding is simple it allows people to connect. The giver of a gift expresses their feelings and emotions by sending a gift with the hope of being able to share these with the receiver of the gift. The receiver of the gift, in turn, receives the feelings and emotions and thus a connection is made. Making connections with people around us gives us a sense of purpose and feeling of satisfaction. This feeling is one that enlightens the soul and brings out the best in us.
The Benefits of Gift Giving
There is an old saying “It is better to give than receive." and its meaning reveals with the realization of the benefits that gift giving provides. There has been a considerable amount of research over the years into the feelings of wellbeing that occurs when we give gifts to those we care about. From as early as cavemen days gift giving has been rewarding which may be the reason it has stood the test of time. Here are some reasons as to why:
We feel happy: Simply put, the giving of gifts can make a person feel happier about themselves as well as to the person that has received their gift. In studies where people were asked to give gifts as a part of an experiment, the result was that people actually felt better and happier with a sense of purpose about their own lives.
Greater social connection: By giving a gift to someone, you're not only expressing your feelings but building a stronger connection with that person as well. Not only does the person receiving the gift feel closer to the giver, but vice versa as well. This greater social connection also means an improvement in the state of being as well as overall happiness.
It’s contagious: When a person starts giving gifts, not only will the recipient become more likely to give, those around them who see this act will start giving as well. This is in part due to the release of the endorphins, which not only benefits the giver but is also felt by those who receive and those who see the act of giving as well.
At Nice & Cool, you will find many gifts ideas to help you find the perfect gift for any occasion and connect with people around you.
One of the main reasons we have the custom of giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is to remind us of the presents given to Jesus by the Wise Men: Frankincense, Gold, and Myrrh.
- Frankincense was a perfume used in Jewish worship and, as a gift, it showed that people would worship Jesus.
- Gold was associated with Kings and Christians believe that Jesus is the King of Kings.
- Myrrh was a perfume that was put on dead bodies to make them smell nice and, as a gift, it showed that Jesus would suffer and die.
Christmas itself is really about a big gift that God gave the world about 2000 years ago: Jesus! One of the most famous Bible verses, John 3:16, says: 'God loved the world so much, that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in him may not be lost but have eternal life.'.
All over the world, families and friends give presents to each other. Most children around the world believe in a Christmas gift-bringer. It's often St. Nicholas, Santa Claus or Father Christmas, but in Germany, they believe that it is the Christkind, in Spain, they believe it is the Wise Men and in Italy, they believe it is an old lady called Befana.
These presents are also left in different places! In most of Europe, the presents are left in shoes or boots put out by the children. In Italy, the UK and the USA presents are left in stockings, often left hanging by a fireplace. In many countries, presents for friends and family may be left under the Christmas Tree. In the UK and many other countries, they are often opened on Christmas day morning with all the family together.
Presents are opened on different days over the world as well. The earliest presents are opened is on St. Nicholas' Eve on December 5th when children in Holland often receive their presents. On St. Nicholas' Day (6th December) children in Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic and some other European countries open some of their presents.
Children in the UK, USA, Japan and many other countries open their presents on Christmas Day, December 25th. The latest presents are opened on January 6th (a month after the earliest). This is known as Epiphany and is mainly celebrated in Catholic countries such Spain and Mexico.
One popular way of giving presents in groups such as clubs, school classes, and workplaces is to have a 'Secret Santa'. This is where you pull the name of someone else in the group out of a hat or other container. You then buy a present for that person. When the presents are given out (often at a Christmas party) each person is given their present but they have no idea which person in the group bought it for them!
We hope this will bring some reflection and inspiration to you. Thank you for being our customers and friends!