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The History of Gifts
The History of Gifts

 

Think about all the celebrations on which we offer presents nowadays: Christmas, birthdays, wedding events, engagements, graduation, Valentine's Day, bar mitzvahs, baby showers, house warming, anniversaries and the list goes on. Has this always held true?

Giving in ancient times: Science is a great location to start. In our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, males have actually been observed offering presents of food to females. In early human beings, it has actually been documented that the more kindly a man gave, the more easily he would draw in a female. So giving appears to have served some evolutionary benefit!

A "potlatch" is a gift-giving feast practiced by Native American cultures for thousands of years. The customized is observed on unique celebrations such as births, deaths, and weddings. In terms of providing, household prestige was measured by who might offer the most extravagant gifts. Here, the attention was on the provider, not the receiver!

From antiquity, Homer's "Odyssey" highlights the Greek poet's view that presents and gift-giving played a really crucial function in society. "Xenia" - or the ancient Greeks' concept of hospitality - determines that a person need to extend gifts to complete strangers; both in material form, as well as in non-material presents, such as providing shelter to the anonymous visitor. According to Homer, the principle of a responsibility to be kind and generous to your fellow beings was a force for social excellent, and helped preserve order.

The biggest gift in history? The custom of gift-giving amongst individuals grew steadily in Europe. So too did it end up being popular as an expression of friendship, neighbourliness and peace between countries. Arguably the biggest gift in history, France presented the United States with The Statue of Liberty on the 100th anniversary of The Declaration. (Although as the stating goes, there's always more to the story).

The most costly present in history? Found near the Indian city of Agra is the white marble mausoleum built by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (reigned 1628-1658) for his favourite partner Mumtaz Mahal; it is naturally, the Taj Mahal. Some 20,000 craftsmens were participated in its' building. In today's terms, it can safely be said to be - priceless.

The most (in)popular present in history? After a 10 year siege of the city of Troy by the Greeks, the Greeks constructed a wooden horse and left it at the gates - and the army sailed away. Obviously. Anyhow, it was customary at the time that a defeated general surrendered his horse, so the Trojans can be forgiven for thinking it was some type of a present to accompany the "surrender". The rest is history. Beware the trojan horse!

The greatest gift event? Christmas. One might be forgiven in modern times for thinking that the custom started with the presents from 3 Wise Guys (which were a blessing for life for the Baby Jesus) but history informs a different story. Giving at Christmas is more a story of economic advancement and a story of industrialisation, instead of the growth of a spiritual custom. It wasn't until the advent of cheaper manufacturing in the late 19th century that goods could be easily and affordably gotten for exchange on unique celebrations.

Today? From clinical and historic origins, we can see that gift-giving grew to be strongly developed throughout all nations and societies. The science and history of the custom-made serves only to explain on one level. The fact that gift-giving was commonly practiced across ancient and varied cultures, people, faiths, languages and countries means that the act of offering is much more basic to the human condition. To go deeper then, we require to see giving as an expression. To understand more, we have to look to philosophy. For a richer gratitude, we require to check out The Joy of Giving.

Searching for a perfect gift for your kid? Read the best kids birthday gifts review to choose the best option!

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