Birthdays, festivals, weddings or any joyous occasion, what they all have in common is the ritual of giving gifts. Any celebration feels incomplete without the presence of gifts. The value, size or worth of the gift is inconsequential in front of the emotion that drives the act of giving it.
We can trace back certain festivals and occasions to when they began and how, but how many of us know when the tradition of giving gifts actually began, who started it and why. There is no way to pin down a date for this one but it is obvious that gifting is as primitive as humans themselves.
The fact that humans are extremely social beings with a desire to enhance relationships would have contributed to the gifting idea. We value relationships and have an inherent need to express our love, affection and appreciation. And being the most creative of all living things, humans were able to come up with the idea of creating objects that would help express their feelings apart from words and gestures.
Gifts have been discovered from the time of the cavemen. What may seem like simple gifts to us in this day and age were actually works of brilliant craftsmanship for that era. Things like necklaces made from the teeth of wild animals, intricately carved stones or wooden ornaments and artefacts were what were probably exchanged in those times.
As humans advanced in their knowledge so did the implementation of this knowledge, not just in terms of general development but also in social activities like gifting. By the days of the Egyptians many more materials had been discovered and gifts became more exquisite. Golden jewelry, carved statues, jewelled pottery and more were found as gift items. By the time of the Greeks with more defined relationships and hierarchies in place, gifting had become more specific. Gifts for mothers, gifts for friends or gifting the royalty, all had a different touch to them.
In the middle ages giving gifts went a level higher. Many more occasions had been included in most traditions and cultures. Also a lot of mixing of cultures had happened as the world opened up due to travel. This resulted in the types of gifts becoming more and more wondrous and unique. And by the time the modern era had begun, gifting had become a big time marketing tool. From the most common occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and wedding every little milestone is life was being celebrated.
The way gifts were considered also went through a tremendous change. Equal emphasis was laid on useful gifts alongside the exorbitant feel good ones. Not only was gifting a means of expression, at times it was also used as a way to assist people on new ventures of life, like starting a new life together, birth of a child or moving into a new house.
Gifting is a tradition that has been on this planet since humans themselves. While there may be various cultures, societies and countries what binds it all together is the idea behind the action. It is purely about good wishes, love and the desire to build relationships.