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Why Do Children Get Presents on Christmas, Anyway?



Why Do Children Get Presents on Christmas, Anyway?
In 1800s New York, the overlapping interests of middle-class families and the wealthy produced a cultural practice that’s still in place today.


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Christmas Gifting To Children: The Tradition

Christmas Gifting To Children: The Tradition

Every year, many families across the world celebrate Christmas and have a tradition of giving children with special Christmas gifts.

Critics have decried the commercialization of the Christmas season for long, although the tradition of buying gifts for children and young adults precedes the corporate marketing efforts that have largely hijacked the true spirit of the festive season.




The Holidays Mean Gifts For Children

Donating gifts to poor children as Christmas charity started only after gift-giving to the children of one’s own family and friends became a common ritual.

Gifting in general is not according to ‘good behaviour’ and does not have an exclusive link to the Christian faith.



Christmas Gifting To Children: The Origin

Gift giving for children during Christmas started in New York City in the 1800s when the holiday was ‘reinvented’ as a family bonding time that integrated the various home decoration and shopping rituals.

When the city’s population grew ten times from 1800 to 1850, city planners and the elites feared that the street revelry done by ‘commoners’ would be a problem for them during the holidays, and started to focus the celebrations to be done at homes only.



Gift Giving: Winter Holiday Rituals

  • New traditions were formed by borrowing existing rituals and traditional activities based on Dutch customs from New Amsterdam.
  • A popular poem put forward by Clement Clarke Moore called The Night Before Christmas in 1823 first mentioned the tradition of children receiving presents on Christmas.
  • As formal public education for young adults had yet to emerge, most young Americans from the emerging middle class in the city were encouraged to celebrate at home, something which aligned with the elite’s interests to ‘domesticate’ the Christmas season.



The American Corporate Engine For Kids

As the toy industry, children's books and magazines began to emerge in the 1820s, parents were happy to see these mediums as being instructional and personal at the same time.

Consumer products spread wide in other American cities and parents could not even control the kids’ access to items targeted at them by corporates.



Gift Giving: Santa Claus Enters

  • During the 1860s, cartoonist Thomas Nast created a warm, grandfatherly character who had many toys for kids, changing the image of Saint Nicholas, who was earlier portrayed as a jolly elf.
  • The December 1868 issue of Hearth And Home published the first new ‘old jolly uncle’ Santa Claus figure.
  • Christmas giving started in full swing in a few decades from then, with marketers taking advantage of this new gifting frenzy.




Why Holidays Feel Special

Why Holidays Feel Special
  • Holidays are filled with family get-togethers, rituals and many things that make us smile.
  • This period is bursting with sensory treats: great food...

Family Traditions

Prayers, toasts, recitals, or singing Christmas carols are basically structured, and repetitive actions that lower anxiety and make the world a bit simpler.

Festive meals are always the main attraction, with special attention to home-cooked treats. Many cultures have elaborate rituals related to how food is cooked, served or eaten. From cooking seven different kinds of curry to spit-roasting a lamb on Easter, many cooking rituals are time-honoured and make the festival special.

The Art Of Giving

The gift-giving ritual is not to be taken lightly and is extremely crucial to maintain social ties and create reciprocal actions filled with love and respect.

Even if the gift choices are pre-planned, the ritual of exchanging gifts has tremendous value and significance.

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The Christmas evolution

The Christmas evolution

Santa and his reindeer, the carols, the lights, and the massive consumer spending on gifts did not happen immediately upon the birth of Christ.

By the mid-1800s, the holiday had picked up v...

The creators of the modern American Christmas

Thomas Nast gave us our image of Santa, but Henry Bessemer figured out how to make steel rapidly, cheaply, and abundantly. He completely revolutionized some of the greatest of human industries.

His rails connected almost every corner of the United States, making it possible to move products and messages of love across the nation.

How the train propelled the idea of Christmas

Society's view was propelled by trains full of Christmas trees, Christmas cards, and Christmas gifts.

The Christmas tree came first as big business in the 19th century. Christmas trees were hauled by train from Maine to New York City. Along with the Christmas tree came the Christmas card. The last piece of the holiday was the tradition of giving gifts. A Times article in 1890 declared "an epidemic in giving and receiving presents".

The Appeal Of Christmas Movies

Every year, at this time, there is a surge of rentals and viewerships in the movies related to the holidays, where Christmas stories and family bondings are lapped up by viewers wanting to glimpse ...

Christmas Movies Are Beyond Religion

The fictional world that holiday movies bring to the viewers provides them solace, courage and reaffirmation to move past the obstacles in their real life.

Though watching Christmas movies during holiday season is a ‘ritual’, the movies themselves do not bend towards christaniity or God, but towards true love, the power of family, the meaning of home and relationships.

The Ideal World Of Movies And Music

Certain songs in holiday movies become etched in the consciousness of people, providing a glimpse of the ideal world which has no dark side, no war, no conflict, no poverty, and no evil.

The movies and the accompanying music create positive emotions, nostalgia and a feeling that all's right with the world, even though it is a constructed, alternative reality.