HISTORY OF CHRISTMAS GIFTS: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GIFT FROM THE PAST TO THE PRESENT
The gift is a well-established custom today, especially at certain times of the year and for particular occasions. One above all, of course, is Christmas. On this occasion, it is normal to find ourselves thinking and having to choose the right gift: it is a unique experience that allows us to take care and nurture a relationship, thanks to a meaningful and selfless gesture.
Choosing a gift is not unimportant: it is like a caress, an act of recognition and appreciation of the other, which enriches and strengthens the relationship between two people. A gesture so profound that it has its roots at the dawn of human civilization: this is where the history of Christmas gifts begins.
In fact, in primitive societies making a gift meant making an exchange, through which relationships were created not only between individuals, but even between entire communities: in this way fundamental social bonds were strengthened, which determined the creation and maintenance of a solid social system.
In his "Essai sur le don" ("The gift") of 1923, the French anthropologist and sociologist Marcell Mauss, after studying at length the meaning of the gift in archaic societies, wrote:
"The gift is endowed with a strong magical power in establishing a relationship with one another or others. A supernatural force, a spiritual power, a symbolic efficacy that can be translated into vital force ".
According to some experts, the Christmas gift can be traced back to a tradition born in ancient Rome: in fact, it is said that the ancient Romans used to give the "strenae", gifts of various kinds to celebrate the Sol Invictus, or the arrival of the winter solstice: the period was that of the Saturnalia and adults and children received auspicious gifts.
According to others, however, Christmas remains exclusively in the Christian sphere and therefore originates to celebrate the birth of Jesus. In the Middle Ages it seems that the custom of giving gifts to children was a way to ensure that even the little ones connected a moment of joy to the day of Christ's birth.
Around this holiday then, another figure soon begins to rotate: Santa Claus. Tradition has it that this well-known character derives from the real existence of St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, a city in the province of the Byzantine Empire. Not surprisingly, in Anglo-Saxon countries he is called Santa Claus, precisely in relation to the name Nicola. It is said, in fact, that Saint Nicholas used to give surprise gifts to the poor, hiding them in the shoes they left in front of the door.
Over time, the figure of Santa Claus has become more and more canonized, universally becoming that of a white-haired man, with a long beard and dressed in a red cloak adorned with fur: the perfect representation of the goodness and joy of Christmas, which brings gifts to all the good children of the world.
Today, therefore, Christmas is a time when adults and children receive precious gifts. A moment in which you have to choose the most beautiful object for the most special people. Think of a story, an emotion, a Fumagalli 1891 accessory.