Giving presents at Christmas is an old tradition. Read below how the custom of gift-giving has evolved. Are you short of ideas? With leisure experiences, accommodation or wellness vouchers, you are guaranteed to go down well with the recipient. We have also put together a few tips on how to avoid the annual Christmas stress.
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There's just something nice about making people you love happy with a gift. Gift giving is an ancient tradition. Gifts have had different meanings. Once upon a time, offerings were made to appease the gods. Since time immemorial, people have brought gifts for guests. But where does the tradition of gifts at Christmas come from?
In the 4th century, St. Nicholas brought small gifts, such as nuts, on December 6. St. Nicholas lived in the Turkish city of Myra in the 4th century and is a saint of all Christianity. There are many legends about him, according to which he gave away a lot and could also work miracles. He is believed to be the origin of Christmas gift-giving. St. Nicholas was also assigned an educational role. When he comes to the children on 6 December, in addition to the jute sack with the nuts, gingerbread and fruit, he always has a rod with him and is accompanied by the black Schmutzli (Knecht Ruprecht), whom the children fear so much. So the first question is always: "Have you been good this year"? Then the good and bad deeds are read out and the children promise to always be good in the future. We all know from our own experience that these promises are soon forgotten.
It was not until the 16th century that the custom of gift-giving developed, not only on St. Nicholas Day but also at Christmas. Martin Luther changed the custom of giving presents on St. Nicholas' Day, which had previously also been customary in his house, to Christmas Eve, as the Protestant Church did not know any veneration of saints. The gift bringer was now no longer Saint Nicholas, but the "Holy Christian". From this the Christ Child developed in some places.
In 1930, according to the German Atlas of Folklore, Santa Claus (in the Protestant north and northeast) and the Christ Child (in the west and south and in Silesia) brought the gifts. In the 18th century, St. Nicholas brought the presents in Catholic areas and the Christ Child in Protestant regions. However, Christmas and the Christ Child became more and more popular and outranked St. Nicholas. Thus, the Christ Child was also adopted by the Catholics and the gift-giving was moved to Christmas Eve.
In many countries, however, the gift-giving figures are not St. Nicholas or the Christ Child, but Santa Claus, who was brought to America by the Dutch as "Sinterklaas" and there became more and more Santa Claus in today's form. In Holland, St. Nicholas still brings the presents on December 6, and in Spain, for example, the gifts are given on January 6, Epiphany.
Older generations know that in the past, people were not overly spoiled with gifts at Christmas, as is the case today. Children received few toys and these were often homemade. And they were usually practical things like clothes or shoes, a school bag or anything else that was needed at the time. Adults, too, usually only got useful things, if anything at all. Nevertheless, it was and still is the highlight of the year and the excitement to see if the Christ Child has found the wish list in front of the window increases from day to day with the children. However, today it is a little different. One hardly knows what to give as a present. The children's rooms are overflowing with toys, and even we adults usually have everything we need. While some people say goodbye to the big business of gift-giving and agree among themselves not to give any more presents, others celebrate it quite deliberately. And be honest: every woman, man and child enjoys giving gifts, even small things, anyway. And it's just as nice to give your loved ones something that you know will make their eyes light up.
Are you also one of those people who stress out about Advent and Christmas and are glad when the holidays are finally over? You bake for days, search tirelessly for suitable gifts for the family, cook a large, demanding menu at Christmas, invite family and relatives, spoil them and then wonder when you are exhausted after the holidays. You don't have to do all that. Make Christmas what it should be: relaxing holidays surrounded by your loved ones.
Here are a few tips:
- Schedule moments of rest. Always take time out before the holidays. Whether it's for a spa day, a walk in nature, or reading a good book.
- Cut down on baking. Stop baking Christmas cookies just because you have to. And if you do bake, get together with friends and discuss who will bake which kind and then exchange the cookies with each other.
- Plan gifts. Write down during the year what you would like to give your loved ones. Often you have a spontaneous idea or a wish is expressed without any particular intention. Then at Christmas you don't know everything anymore.
- Simple gifts. Gifts don't always have to be expensive. Something small, individual or something you have made yourself can be just as much fun. By the way, handicrafts are very relaxing.
- Delegate tasks. You don't have to do everything yourself. Distribute the tasks to the whole family.
- Lower your own expectations. There's a reason why fondue chinoise is so popular at Christmas. A simple meal at Christmas doesn't make Christmas any less festive. You spend fewer hours in the kitchen and then are more relaxed at the table. No one expects you to cook a 6 course meal unless cooking is your passion. You can also prepare a lot of food days in advance and freeze it.
- Minimize obligations. You don't have to invite or visit all your relatives at Christmas. You might as well do it once during the year.