Before we talk on the 'whys and how's' of gift giving lets find out what the word Gift means and how it started. There are several definitions of gift out there but we would take just the one by Merriam Webster’s dictionary which defines A gift as something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation or as the act, right, or power of giving. How did this concept come to be? who started it ?
The History Of Gift Giving
The act of gift giving is said to have existed way before human civilization, as it has proven difficult to trace its exact beginnings. However researchers believe that the earliest recorded events of gift giving is traced back to the cave man. While i agree with these research findings i also beg to differ in that I feel that God himself the creator was the first gift giver; He created man and breath his breath into him, can you beat that? That was a classic case of giving of your self. He went further to create a partner for the Man after he thought it wasn't cool for the Man to be alone, so he gifted him a partner.
What Where the First Gifts Given like?
The cave men were said to have gifted out items such as shells, unusual shaped rocks and animal remains to show appreciation and forge friendships with others. Also In ancient Rome, it is well recorded that during the second half of December and the early part of January, festivals took place at which gifts were exchanged. Roman chroniclers related that the patricians received gifts from their plebeian dependents, and the Emperors from the citizens. In most cultures there is a place, time and season for gift giving.
As times changed and social structures evolved, the items presented as gifts as well as the timings/ frequency of gift giving have changed. Gifting has become more fluid, elaborate and indeed stylish. Regardless of how far gift giving has evolved, certain aspects of the process remain constant. One of which is the feeling of Joy and satisfaction that is felt both by the recipient and the sender.
There are a vast array of gift giving scenarios; and each require a different mode of execution. For instance the way you would give a gift to your kid, differs from how you would gift your boss; also the what and how you gift your boss would also differ from how you would give a needy or homeless person a gift.
The timings and manner of gift giving also tend to vary within cultures, religions and climes. I think it is also worthy to mention that not all gift giving scenarios have to involve a transmission of physical items. One can give the gift of time, knowledge, a compliment, a hug, a note and a word of prayer.
Why Are Gifts Given?
There are a several reasons why we give gifts. First of which would be maintaining certain cultural norms, customs and traditions e.g. exchanging gifts at Christmas. In many families children look forward to the festive season to receive toys and other specially wrapped gifts from their parents and not receiving one when they have become accustom to doing so is likely to not go down well with them. In turn they could pass down the tradition to the next generation.
Another reason why we would want to give a gift is because we intend to reciprocate the gesture. Meaning we feel the need to give someone who has given us a gift.
We also give gifts to show our value for the role others play in our personal, family and business lives. We tend to also give as a way of reinforcing our love, appreciation and commitment to those with whom we share a close relationship.
Another reason people give is to mark / celebrate life’s special occasions such as the birth of a new baby, a wedding, an anniversary, birthdays, new home, a promotion etc.
Lastly in business, organizations deploy corporate gifting as a means to engage and show appreciation to their valued clients, employees, and associates. Alternatively businesses sometimes give gifts to serve as conversation starters with people or businesses whom they intend to collaborate in the near future.
Whichever side of the divide you are on, Gift giving is a good thing in that when well done both the receiver and giver are happier for it. Interestingly the sender despite having given of themselves or their resources tend to feel a bigger sense of self gratification after giving a good gift.