Schreiner University: Gifts of the Season - Opinion

Schreiner University: Gifts of the Season

Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2019 9:54 pm

As the holidays approach, we remind each other why this season matters: the opportunity to spend time with family, the sights and smells and tastes of Christmas, a reconnection to our faith and values, and the expression of goodwill towards men and women. Though we are reluctant to say it out loud for fear of appearing shallow—the gifts aren’t bad either.

Gift-giving has a long and wide-ranging history, and it especially is practiced by peoples around the world during the time of the winter solstice, when the natural world appears to be on the brink of extinguishing itself. In Northern Europe, gift-giving was the responsibility of Odin, who delivered his bounty on an eight-legged horse. A Dutch gift-giver, Sinter Claus, took his inspiration from Odin, though he wore bishop’s robes and rode a white horse that flew through the sky. In Italy, Befana brought gifts to children as she attempted to catch up to the three Magi who were on their way to see the Christ child. The Magi themselves are the gift-givers in many Latin American countries. And while many of these gift-givers brought presents that elicited joy, some of them brought gifts that elicited terror (e.g., switches) or disappointment (e.g., coal), too.

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