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Christmas gifts - origins & trivia


The custom of giving gifts to relatives and friends on a special day in winter probably began inChristmas gifts ancient Rome and northern Europe. In these regions, people gave each other small presents as part of their year-end celebrations.

In the United States and England, children hang stockings on their bedpost or near a fireplace on Christmas Eve, hoping that it will be filled with treats while they sleep. In Scandinavia, similar-minded children leave their shoes on the hearth. This tradition can be traced to legends about Saint Nicholas. One legend tells of three poor sisters who could not marry because they had no money for a dowry. To save them from being sold by their father, St. Nick left each of the three sisters gifts of gold coins. One went down the chimney and landed in a pair of shoes that had been left on the hearth. Another went into a window and into a pair of stockings left hanging by the fire to dry.

No one was really in the habit of exchanging elaborate gifts until late in the 1800s. The Santa Claus stories of giving gifts to good children, combined with an amazing retailing phenomenon that has grown since the turn of the century, has made gift giving a central focus of the Christmas tradition.

 
 
 

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