So many customs and traditions that are carried out during Christmas are being believed to have kick-started mainly in the Northern part of Europe – Germany, Spain and Italy, especially.
Among the major motivations for the giving of Christmas gifts is the Biblical story of the “Three Wise Men,” popularly known as “The Maggi.” Then, it was believed that giving gifts make us remember the gifts that were presented to Jesus Christ by the Three Wise Men in the aftermath of his birth – Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.
Jesus Christ was believed by the Christians to be the King of Kings and Gold was heavily linked with Kings. Frankincense on its part, as a perfume was used by the Jewish tribe during worship, and that signified that Jesus Christ will be worshipped by the world. As for Myrrh, it was a balm used on dead bodies to make their bodies produce nice smells. That means Jesus Christ will experience great suffering and will afterwards, die.
According to the famous book authored by Stephen Nissenbaum, “The Battle for Christmas,” Christmas presents was also believed to have originated from what was then known as “Christmas begging.” Then, in the modern Europe, young men form several boisterous groups hit the streets of big cities, moving from home to home and demanding assistance from wealthy families. As at that time, Christmas celebrations looked nothing like the kind celebrated today.
Christmas has experienced a lot of modifications that have made it more interesting. The presentation of gifts for instance, is done in a variety of ways today. In Europe, most people leave it for children in their shoes. Italians, British and people from the US often leave theirs in stockings hanging –them by fire places (an idea gotten from the St. Nicholas story). In most parts of the globe, they are left under the Christmas Trees.
There are other interesting ways of giving presents that were also devised as Christmas got older. Children always hoped to receive presents from a “Christkind,” as Germans believed; “Wise men,” as the Spanish believe or an “Old Lady,” as the Italians believed, but generally referred to as “Santa Claus.” This has in the US today, graduated to a phenomenal practise known as “Santa in the Shopping Mall.”
Another typical example is the “Secret Santa” Christmas parties where gifts are bought for a person whose name was, out of many names, pulled out of a hat at will. The fun of it is that the beneficiary of each of these gifts will not know who in the group bought it.
Different parts of the world present and opened Christmas gifts on different days. The Dutch for instance, present gifts to their children on the 5th day of December (the Eve of St. Nicholas Day). The Germans, Belgians and some other countries in Europe open theirs on the 6th (the St. Nicholas Day). In the US, UK, Japan and most parts of Africa, they do theirs on the “D” day, the 25th day of December. The Spanish and Mexicans are known to always do theirs a month after the St. Nicholas Day, the Epiphany.
Right from the first ever Christmas celebration more than 2000 years ago till date, this celebration has grown to become the most celebrated in the history of Christianity and the world in general. It is to Christians, the birthday of salvation and to the entire world, the birthday of the most iconic and charismatic human that ever, and will ever touched the surface of the earth – Jesus Christ.