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I must be getting old! I found myself telling my eldest daughter ‘Christmas is all about present’s nowadays!’ – just the type of thing my parents used to say to me! Her answer back was – ‘in the olden days (meaning when I was young) did you not get presents?’ Which of course I did. This got me thinking about the tradition of giving Christmas presents, where did it come from? And the answer is people have been giving presents for centuries. One of the earliest known customs of giving presents around winter was during the Roman festival of the Kalends, which occurred on the first day of January. High ranking officials of the Roman Administration were expected to present gifts to the Emporer during the Kalends. Originally these gifts were in the form of branches of evergreen and evolved into gifts of honey and cakes as symbols of a wish that the new year might be full of sweetness. Another early source of gift-giving comes from St Nicholas. During the fourth century, St. Nicholas was the bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. St. Nicholas had a reputation for his generosity and kindness, especially toward children. He was known for giving treats and small presents to them. According to the ChristiaNet website, St. Nicholas has evolved into the magical Santa Claus of today. The giving of Christmas presents in the modern sense seems to have started in America in the 1820s. What had once been the simple practice of exchanging small gifts exploded into the full-fledged consumer driven event we now know. The tradition of giving Christmas presents has evolved hugely since very early tradition’s and gone are the day’s when one present was exchanged. However many people are becoming less materialistic and choosing a much more responsible and ethical approach to Christmas present giving. And with a little planning and making some considered choices ethical Christmas gifts can be sourced which have far reaching benefits to both people and planet.

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