HOLIDAY GIFT GIVING
BY HALLIE MILLS DECEMBER 19, 2014
Wrapped in colorful paper and tied with a bow, gifts are a common sight each December. Whether a person participates in Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, he or she will most likely receive a gift or give one to someone else. Some non-religious people give gifts each December just because it is “the thing to do.” How did the tradition of giving gifts start? What does it symbolize? Why do we give gifts each December? Many of the people who participate in this tradition do not even know the answer to these questions.
Christians believe that on the night when Jesus was born, three wise men were present at the birth, each with a gift to give to Jesus. Because of this, Christians give gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the gifts that the wise men gave. Although it is very popular to give gifts, not all Christians believe in the importance of presents.
“For my family, it’s not about the gifts,” freshman Jahdai Moore said. “Whenever we get together to celebrate, it’s all about Christ. Maybe people just [give gifts], but I know that for us it’s not about the gifts.”
The giving traditions of Hanukkah did not originate with elaborate gifts. Originally, Jewish children were given gelt, which is Yiddish for money. Gelt was given during Hanukkah as a reward to children who had learned about their religion. Eventually, it became more and more common for families to give children gifts other than gelt, and adults began to participate as well. Not all Jewish families participate in gift giving during Hanukkah; however, it is common for families to exchange gifts each night of the eight days during Hanukkah.
For those who celebrate Kwanzaa, it is highly encouraged that the gifts given have a purpose, such as helping the receiver learn something or bringing out the receiver's sense of creativity. Kwanzaa begins on Dec. 26, and gifts are usually given on the last day, Jan. 1.
There are also a large number of people who are not religious that participate in the festive tradition of gift giving. Every person has a slightly different view on gift giving. Whether they think it is to show appreciation, thanks or love, all gifts are given for a positive reason.
“I think we give each other [gifts] to show we appreciate each other and love each other,” senior Keasia Vines said.
With the holidays right around the corner, it is time to get those last-minute gifts for loved ones. Whenever people think of the holidays, there are always a few images that come to mind. For one person, that image might be of a baby Jesus, for others it might be of a Menorah, Christmas tree or Santa Claus. One thing that all the holidays of December have in common is gift giving. Many non-religious and religious people alike participate in things like Secret Santa and Chinese gift exchange, and of course Santa Claus. But no matter what beliefs people may have, the holidays are always a popular time to share the joy of giving gifts.