Friday, December 17, 2010

Gift Giving

You give but little when you give of your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. --Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Gift giving at Christmas is a very old tradition which  dates back to the Roman Saturnalia festival (also called Kalends).  Gift giving was traditional with the ancient Romans, and the first gifts were simple things such as small candles, evergreens, incense, lamps,  frankincense, and garlands of holly or laurel.  Children were given little images made of clay or paste. They gave presents to family, friends, and neighbors as part of the celebration. This festival, named in honor of the god, Saturn, took place from December 17th to December 25th, and because Saturnalia took place at the Solstice, it was also known as the Festival of Lights; hence, many of the presents given were candles, used to summon the sun back to life. 

Early Christians feared that the Pagan Romans would persecute them during this time, so they began putting up Saturnalia holly, and as more and more people became Christians, it soon became a tradition....and as the early Christians got together to decorate, they began participating in customs similar to the Romans.  Early Christians did not practice gift giving, however, for it was viewed as a pagan and frowned upon.  It was later that tradition ended up prevailing and Christians began giving gifts during their Christmas celebration.  

Most people today trace the practice of giving gifts to the three gifts that the Magi or Three Kings took to Bethlehem for the Christ child.   Each gift foretold something that Christ would become--gold represents Christ's role as king; frankincense represents his divine nature and role as most high priest; and myrrh represents his role as healer.

As we all know, nowadays the more social aspect of Christmas gift giving has taken over, as a means of showing affection to family and friends for instance, but the roots of the gift giving should always be remembered as a Christian religious tradition. The commercial aspect of Christmas is now a gigantic economic operation, as Christmas gift giving is a major tradition...and sadly, this aspect of it has taken away much of what Christmas is really about.   This is why many of us do not feel in the mood.

You don't always have to spend money during Christmas;  there are so many things to give such as your talent, skill, presence, and even your time. You can all give these things wholeheartedly and without any inhibitions as well. You can visit a sick friend, just to show them that you care, or you can spend time with your kids, who, perhaps due to your busy schedule, have felt neglected.  You can make something that you can give for those in need such as blankets or pillows to aid them during the cold season. You can even give some of your old items.  One thing I always do at the change of seasons is to sort out whatever clothing  hubby, my son, or I will definitely not be wearing and put them to the side.  Then, as we near the holidays, I begin bringing them in to work, a little at a time for clients who are in need.   It gives me a warm feeling when I see a needy client wearing something that at one time would have just gone to waste. 

 May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through!  --Author Unknown


  1. Lovely entry. Betcha' I'll have to link to this one, too. :-)

  2. One of my favorite things to make this time of year is memories : ) Laughing, eating and enjoying a friend or family members that's what it's really all about.




  4. You have such good thoughts to impart on your readers and friends Mary. :0)