I love gifts! I love to receive them and I love to give them. It gives me great pleasure to search and find the "perfect" gift for each person. This time of year is the second most popular gift-giving season only behind the Christmas/Hanukkah season. This is the time of year we honor Mom and Dad and celebrate graduations from kindergarten through graduate school, and, as we all know, June is the month for weddings and bridal showers. Of course, that means that there are also significant anniversaries being celebrated as well. This all led me to wonder about the history of gift giving. I found a great blog by Allie Hartford on the subject.
Some of the things that I learned from Allie about gifts:
1. Male chimpanzees give gifts of food to females. With early humans, the man who gave generous gifts was more likely to attract a female.
2. Native Americans gave gift-giving feasts on special occasions like births, deaths, and weddings with the traditions going back thousands of years. The attention was more on the giver than the receiver as family prestige was measured by how lavish the gifts were.
3. The Greek poet Homer thought that the Greek idea of hospitality "xenia" dictated that gifts be given to strangers, both material gifts as well as non-material such as providing shelter for a stranger.
4. The biggest gift in history was the gift of the Statue of Liberty from France to US on the 100th anniversary of The Declaration of Independence.
5. The most expensive gift in history was the Taj Mahal built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
6. The most infamous gift in history--the Trojan horse.
7. Of course, the biggest gift event today is Christmas. While we all like to think that it started with the Wise Men giving gifts to the baby, our current gift giving traditions are more the result of economic development and industrialization. The late 19th century saw the advent of cheaper manufacturing leading to goods that were more easy to obtain and more affordable.
Thursdays blog will have some specific thoughts on gifts for graduates as well as Dad and the bridal couple.