Christmas gifts and their ancient meaning in folklore



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Christmas gifts and their ancient meaning in folklore

Christmas gifts refers to the custom, at midnight on December 24th or the following morning, of exchanging gifts between family and friends. The tradition of exchanging gifts is very old, and presumably is of pagan origin. For example, it is certain that in the countries of Northern Europe it was customary to exchange gifts on the day of the Winter Solstice, as a form of greeting for the beginning of the winter season.

Exchanging gifts is one of the key aspects of the modern celebration of Christmas, making it the most profitable time of year for retailers and businesses around the world. At Christmas, people exchange gifts based on the Christian tradition associated with Saint Nicholas and the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that were given to the baby Jesus by the Magi.

Giftgiving in the Roman celebration of Saturnalia may have influenced Christian customs, but on the other hand the Christian central dogma of the Incarnation nevertheless firmly established the structural principle of that recurring event in giving and receiving gifts but unique, because it was the biblical Magi, together with all their fellow men, who received the gift of God through man's renewed participation in divine life.

Santa Claus: between folklore and traditions

All the versions of the modern Santa Claus, called Santa Claus in English-speaking countries, derive mainly from the same historical figure: St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra, today Demre, a city located in today's Turkey, of which, for example, it is said that he found and brought back to life three children, kidnapped and killed by an innkeeper, and who was therefore considered the protector of children.

The name Santa Claus derives from Sinterklaas, the Dutch name of Saint Nicholas. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, and in some parts of Italy, he is still represented with bishop's robes.

Before the conversion to Christianity, the folklore of the Germanic peoples, including the English one, narrated that the god Odin every year held a great hunt in the period of the winter solstice (Yul), accompanied by the other gods and fallen warriors.

Tradition had it that children left their boots by the fireplace, filling them with carrots, straw or sugar to feed the flying horse of the god, Sleipnir. In return, Odin would replace food with gifts or sweets. This practice has survived in Belgium and the Netherlands even in Christian times, associated with the figure of St.

Nicholas.
The Germanic tradition arrived in the United States of America through the Dutch colonies of New Amsterdam, renamed by the British to New York, before the British conquest of the seventeenth century, and is at the origin of the modern habit of hanging a stocking on the fireplace for Christmas , similar in some ways to that spread in Italy on January 6 at the arrival of the Befana.

Another folkloric tradition of the Germanic tribes tells the story of a holy man (in some cases identified with Saint Nicholas) struggling with a demon (which can be, from time to time, a devil, a troll or the figure of Krampus ) or a dark man who killed in dreams (Blackman or pitchman).

The legend tells of a monster that terrorized the people by sneaking into the houses through the chimney during the night, attacking and killing children in a horrible way. The modern Santa Claus brings together current representations of the gift-bearer, of religious or popular inspiration, with a pre-existing British character.

The latter dates back to at least the 17th century, and there are still some period illustrations in which he is represented as a bearded and portly gentleman, dressed in a green cloak up to the feet and adorned with fur.

He represented the spirit of Christmas goodness, and is found in Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol under the name of Present Spirit of Christmas. The traditional home of Santa Claus changes according to traditions. In the United States it is claimed that he lives in Alaska while in Canada his laboratory is indicated in the north of the country.

In Europe, the Finnish version is more widespread, which places it in a village near the much larger Finnish city of Rovaniemi, in Lapland, exactly on the Arctic Circle. According to Norwegians, his residence is Drøbak, where Santa's post office is located.

Other traditions speak of Dalecarlia, in Sweden, and of Greenland. In the countries where he is identified with San Basilio he is sometimes made to live in Caesarea in Cappadocia. In the United States, tradition has it that on the evening of Christmas Eve they leave a glass of milk and cookies for Santa Claus.

In England his meal consists of mince pie and sherry instead. British and American children also leave a carrot outside the home for Santa's reindeer; they were once told that if they weren't good all year round they would find a piece of coal in the sock instead of sweets. RAPUSIA STAFF WISH MARRY XMAS TO ALL OF YOU!