A Christmas present or Christmas gift is a present given at the celebration of Christmas, usually on Christmas Day. Christmas presents are usually exchanged on Christmas Day itself, Christmas Day, or at the end of the twelve-day Christmas period, Twelfth Night. Gifts may also be exchanged between friends and relatives on other occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and other holidays related to the celebration of Christmas.
Traditionally, the exchange of gifts began on Advent during the Lenten season, from early Christianity. Gifts between people who were closely related, usually parents and children, were exchanged without any expectation of return, as well as between neighbors on their return from a long trip. Gifts between friends and loved ones were mostly given as a token of affection rather than as an investment. Gifts between people of the same religion, such as Christmas Gifts for Christian Friends, were not exchanged, but rather displayed or placed among the Christmas trees.
Some traditions have developed that are connected with exchanging gifts, perhaps because it became so common in ancient times. During the Persian Empire, for example, boys would exchange gold coins for girls they had hoped to marry. In ancient Egypt, a groom presented his bride with a wreath of flowers to mark the beginning of her married life. Sometimes families would send money or other gifts between friends and family on special occasions, particularly when one family was celebrating an anniversary or some other special event.
Gifts in the Middle Ages were less expensive than they are today, though they still included precious metals and the finest fabrics. Gifts were usually exchanged between family members, and there was no concept of an exchange of gifts. Gifts were usually visible on Christmas Eve, as well, meaning that they would need to be seen by someone. Though some families did exchange presents, they mostly presented food, clothes, wine or other goods that their hosts could use in their homes.
Gifts also played a large part in the economic activities of Europe during the Medieval Times. Though exchange of goods and gifts had become less frequent, thanks to the development of new technological ways to produce goods, exchange of currency still occurred. For instance, traders would exchange metal for linen during the medieval period. This practice eventually died down as new methods for producing cloth became available. By the 13th century, with new inventions and better manufacturing techniques, exchange of money for gifts had begun to fade away.
Exchanging gifts has become almost as popular as giving gifts. In fact, it is now second nature to exchange things with friends and family. In today’s modern world, it is not unusual for a Christmas party to begin with a family exchange of gifts.