Gifting Traditions from around the world
Gift giving has always been associated with the holiday season. The practice of giving holiday gifts has, in fact, been around since the time Christmas celebrations became legal in the 1680s.
This delightful tradition reminds us of the biblical story of the Three Wise Men honoring Baby Jesus with gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh.
Nonetheless, there are earlier historical instances of gift giving by the people of Europe and the Middle East during winter festivals, when people gifted fruits, nuts, candles, and pottery as part of the festivities.
We can also link the custom of holiday gifts to St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop who was renowned for his charitable deeds. Legend has it that St. Nick was a rich man who secretly gave gifts of gold to the needy. He is supposed to have inspired the idea of Santa Claus—the iconic Christmas figure who brings gifts to children in December. To this day, European countries like Belgium and Germany practice gift-giving on St. Nicholas Day instead of Christmas Eve.
Christmas celebrations originally involved festivities for the entire community, and holiday gifts were edible items like cakes and ales. This practice changed in the early 1800s when winter celebrations became family affairs and presents became more personalized. As the celebrations moved from the marketplace to homes, the practice of placing presents under a Christmas tree and opening them on Christmas morning was slowly established.
However, we can see variations of this practice in different countries. In Italy, holiday gifts are given on the 12th day of Christmas while children in Latin countries like Spain and Mexico receive gifts on January 6th.
Another interesting fact is that holiday gift giving is popular in other cultures as well. Eid-Al-Fitr in the Middle East, Diwali in India and Hanukkah in Jewish communities are similar occasions when holiday gifts are exchanged.
When Muslim families come together to celebrate Eid, relatives give children cash gifts called Eidi. They also exchange sweets and new clothes. The festival of Diwali in India is incomplete without gift-giving. Common gift items are sweets, traditional lamps, new clothes, jewelry, and money. During Hanukkah, Jews originally distributed coins or money. However, the practice changed over the years to include actual gifts. The Jews also give gifts during Purim, a holiday in spring.
The Chinese associate gifts with respect and bonding. Families exchange gifts during the Chinese New Year in February. While children receive clothes, toys, and money, adults exchange luxury items and edible presents. Japanese give gifts to their loved ones during Ochugen in July and Oseibo in December.
If we look at all these instances, we can see that holiday gifts serve as a central role of winter celebrations around the world, by building a connection between the giver and receiver. Irrespective of the country or culture, the beauty of this tradition is that it allows us to express our affection and gratitude through the simple act of gifting, thus rewarding us with happiness that enhances the excitement of the holiday season.
The most appealing and unique gifts are frequently handmade and produced in limited quantities. Due to their outstanding craftsmanship, attention to detail and high-quality materials, they carry a story, reflect on a culture and a convey deep tradition. The handmade crochet keychains and wool products in the collection are Fair Trade Certified™ and made in Armenia and Nepal, respectively. Each one of them benefits local artisans creating sustainable jobs and delivering outstanding quality products.