Historically, exchange of gift has its roots in pagan rituals held during the winter and Christianity transformed these rituals into Christmas. The justification for bearing gifts was redirected to the Three Wise Men, the Magi, who gave gifts to the infant Jesus.
Long before the advent of Christianity, plants and trees that remained green all year had a special meaning for people in the winter. Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.
Some account of history has is that; the birth of Jesus wasn’t celebrated on December 25 until the 4th or 5th century. Most historians believe it occurred at a different time of the year but there is some possibility that this day corresponds with Jesus’ actual birth. The major reason the celebration was moved to December 25 was the desire to Christian the Roman festival that occurred during the time. From December 17 – 23, Romans celebrated “Saturnalia,” a feast dedicated to the agricultural god known as Saturn. During these days Romans would give various gifts to each other. Similarly, the Roman New Year on January 1 was an additional day of gift giving in honor of the god Janus.
As Christianity spread all over Europe, there was also an increase in the devotion to St. Nicholas, whose feast was celebrated on December 6. He was known to leave gifts in shoes or stockings on his feast and this tradition grew in popularity all over the world. In the 19th and 20th centuries they were massive immigrants from European countries to the United States. At this period the popular figure of Santa Claus was born and it was highly influenced by the poem Twas the Night Before Christmas and the commercial campaigns by Coca-Cola. Over time, these different traditions were combined into a new celebration of Christmas that focused on gift giving and the overnight arrival of Santa. The exchange of presents on December 25 by Christians recalls the gifts by the Magi, in ancient times and also cherish the greatest gift to mankind which is JESUS.