Gift giving is the most well known of all Christmas traditions all around the world. Gifts are given throughout families, given to close friends and in appreciation to business associates. The giving of gifts is a wonderful expression of the love and good will that surrounds the Christmas season.
Several months after the Christ Child was born, the three wise men came and presented gifts to Him. “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’ On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh" (Matthew 2:1-2, 11).
In the true spirit of the season and gift giving, many think of the less fortunate and choose to give food, clothing and presents to them. The custom of giving to the needy was one of the traditions of Boxing Day which is celebrated the first weekday after Christmas in many countries. On Boxing Day, employers gave their servants boxes of food and other necessities and public workers such as mailmen were remembered by the people they served. Some traditions hold that money was taken from church collection boxes and distributed to the disadvantaged.
Santa Claus, as he is depicted today, is derived from two very old legends: Saint Nicholas, a bishop who gave generous gifts to the poor and was considered to be the patron saint of sailors and children and Father Christmas, who was considered to be the spirit of good cheer.