Why Do We Give Gifts at Christmas?
A History of Giving
As a result, in the Christian religion, the practice of giving gifts at Christmas is traced back to the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that were given to the Christ child by the three Magi.
The Gift of the Magi - 賢者の贈り物
"They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh." -
家の中に入ると，その母マリアと共にいる幼子を見，ひれ伏して彼を拝んだ。自分たちの宝箱を開いて，金と乳香と没《もつ》薬を贈り物としてささげた。 - 電網聖書『マタイによる福音書 2:11』
The magi were kings from the East, wise men who traveled a great distance following a star, to find the Christ child and to bring him gifts. The visit of the Magi to the Christ child was originally celebrated on the Feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Over time, the tradition of giving gifts came to be more associated with Christmas than with Epiphany. It is the time from Christmas to Epiphany in the Church calendar – from December 25th through January 6th – that is recognized as the “twelve days of Christmas” from the old Christmas carol.
a Christian feast called Epiphany - 主顕節という,キリスト教の祝日
a Christmas carol - クリスマスを祝う歌
To be certain, the ancient Church did not “celebrate” Christmas as much as it “observed” Christmas as a holy day. It wasn’t really until the modern era that the tradition of giving gifts to loved ones at Christmas became more and more popular. Various countries and peoples began to make gift-giving a regular part of the holy day (or “holiday”) over a period of time. By the time the Americas were settled, giving gifts at Christmas was practiced by many of the settlers. The early Dutch settlers to America introduced St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus, to the new world. The early French and English settlers, in contrast, were more likely to give gifts at New Year’s or at Epiphany.
Ultimately, a common Christmas culture developed in which gifts were given on Christmas. In the 19th century, the idea of gift giving became more popular, as the works of Charles Dickens, and Thomas Nast all helped to shape our concepts of Santa Clausand other aspects of the holiday.
Today, we all give gifts at Christmas for our own reasons. For some, it is a way to celebrate the Christian holy day. For others, it is a special time to let family and friends know that you care by giving gifts. Why don't you give yourself the gift of a new language this year? Now is a great time to sign up for classes at Berlitz. Check out our Winter Campaign!
ハロウィーンの語彙: Spooky Idioms and Ghostly Phrases
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Min's Berlitzine (Dec. 2016)