The Story Behind Gift Giving

Most people would say that receiving gifts is amongst the best things in life, and they wouldn’t be wrong – getting presents is one of life’s best perks! The origins of gift giving in human society go back thousands of years, all the way back to when the first fibres of society itself were being formed. Humans in nature are social creatures, we form relationships, we experience feelings of affection, love etc. we need to express such feelings and emotions in a material form, also to show appreciation and respect for someone, mark an occasion etc. – these are just few of the many (noble) reasons why a person would give another a gift. Humans being humans of course, also do things for all the wrong reasons at times, so giving gifts became a form of bribery for one purpose or another. This however arose as a concept at a later stage of human civilisation when cunningness and certain types of power struggles appeared in society. For now, we will stay away from the topic, and stick to gift giving as a positive act showing kindness and gratitude.

Wooden HorseThe first gifts in human history were basic things found in nature, though of specific look and appeal. Tribal chiefs received or gave out certain objects like unusually shaped rocks, strange coloured tree bark, part of tree roots, leaves, parts of animals like hides, teeth, skulls etc. At later point, when rudimentary tools and basic technology appeared, gifts like primitive jewellery and household items became valuable gifts. During the antiquity period, the Egyptians and Romans took gift giving to a whole new level. The Egyptians for instance presented gifts to their rulers – the pharaohs, which were basically their gods. They also gave gifts to each other on certain occasions to show gratitude, affection etc. The Romans taking it a step further, gave gifts as tokens of good will or good lick or allegiance to certain person or cause.  The Roman practice spread all over Europe during the medieval period. During the Middle Ages, gift giving moved away from its altruistic origins, and gifts and presents were mostly given in order to secure a position or personal favour, ensure someone’s allegiance etc.

Wrapped GiftIn modernity, although the basic reasons of giving gifts still remain valid, the act of gift giving has become much more sophisticated and personal. The sheer abundance of products and items available as gifts, the ease with which presents can be purchased and delivered, sites like are an excellent example of how gift choosing and giving has evolved and become an inseparable part of modern life. The actual psychology of gift giving is perhaps even more important than the one of receiving gifts. Extensive psychological research has gone into understanding why people want to give gifts as it’s a known fact that everyone likes receiving gifts, so the topic isn’t such a hard one to decipher). The act of gift giving is apparently as gratifying for the giver as it is for the recipient. Giving gifts defines a complex set of emotions and feelings on behalf of the giver. Gift giving marks and works on certain aspects of personal relationships, it strengthens positions in a relationship or establishes certain elements of interpersonal relations. Another important thing about gift giving is the positive emotion and wellbeing the giver and recipient experience at that time. Sharing the gift with the giver after receiving it (if suitable of course) is also one of the essential aspects of gift giving as a whole.

Gift giving is one of the most human things to do, it brings joy and satisfaction to both giver and recipient, so keep up the life old tradition.