Gift giving has been an activity throughout human history. Gifts can have different meanings based on the people involved or the occasion. Sometimes, it is difficult to know what the right gift would be.
With a general idea of the concept of gift giving, we hope to give you a better understanding of what gifts are so that you can come up with some great gift ideas for the special people in your life.
What occasions and customs in the U.S. traditionally involve giving gifts or gift exchanges?
A number of occasions and celebrations call for gifts. On a birthday, the person having the birthday receives gifts, often including a cake or some sort of dessert. During the Christmas holidays, people often exchange gifts, sometimes receiving them supposedly from Santa Clause.
At a wedding, the couple receives gifts, usually for their home, and provides food and drinks at a wedding reception. On the solemn occasion of a funeral, visitors often bring flowers and the family of the deceased gives refreshments.
After a birth, the parents receive gifts on behalf of the newborn child. Students at an academic milestone such as a graduation often receive gifts in congratulations.
On Father’s and Mother’s Day, parents receive gifts from their children. It is a tradition also for guests and hosts to exchange gifts at parties.
Where are some good places to go for gift ideas?
The consumer culture has made it easy for people to let other people know what they want, so really it’s not going to be too difficult to get gift ideas, especially for special occasions like weddings or the birth of a child.
Many stores have gift registries where people participating in a celebration such as a wedding can register for the types of gifts they would like to receive. For example, a couple soon to be married can go into a store like Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond and register for household items that would be helpful as they start their life together.
This registry or wish list process also helps to ensure that guests of the wedding don’t buy too many of certain items. You only need so many coffeepots in a house!
A number of consumer-oriented websites have similar tools. For example, Amazon.com will make suggestions about complementary items or other products you might view on the website.
What about religiously related gifts?
At some point in your life, you or your child may be invited to a religious celebration. For example, it has become common today in the United States for some Jewish families to celebrate bar or bat mitzvah.
Interestingly enough, such celebrations have only become common in the past century-before that, they were nearly unheard of! The bar mitzvah is the celebration of a Jewish boy coming into adulthood at the age of 13.
The bat mitzvah is for girls at the age of 12. It has become traditional for guests to bring gifts to the reception party. If you want to give the celebrant a gift related to his or her religion, be sure to know something about the person’s faith. Usually, the gifts given are like any 12 or 13-year-old child’s birthday party gift.
Has Christmas always been about gift giving?
Yes and no. The Christian Bible tells that on the first Christmas, wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the infant Jesus. This has become one of the bases for the exchange of gifts in modern Christmas celebrations.
However, it is interesting to note that two of the gifts, frankincense and myrrh, were used in preparing a body for burial. These symbolisms are overlooked today with the commercialization of Christmas.
Today, especially in developed Western countries, people are encouraged to purchase gift upon gift for their friends and family. This is a relatively new tradition, dating only to the nineteenth century.
However, figures now associated with Christmas gifts, such as Santa Claus, have been around for a few more centuries. So, has Christmas always been about gift giving? Yes, but originally it would have been a gift to God of religious devotion, not necessarily economy-boosting consumption.
What about shopping on the Internet?
The Internet is a very useful resource for finding gifts for friends and family members. It has become one of the central places of retail, and minus the wait for shipping, it tends to be less stressful than going to a shopping center.
You may be only a few clicks away from finding the perfect gift for someone. You can even send an email asking what the person would like and just copy and paste the response into a Google search to find the item.
Some Internet-based shops will even send the gift directly to the recipient and possibly wrap it for you (for a fee, of course!).
Be sure when purchasing a gift online that the website is secure, because you will have to use a credit card. For as wonderful as gift giving can be, remember that being with someone in person is the greatest gift of all.
Gifts don’t always have to be purchased. You just might be the gift someone needs.
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