Where it all began
The act of giving and receiving gifts can also be known as a consumption ritual, which means it is seen as an act of consuming goods or services based on an order of religious ceremony. Whether that be the religion of Christianity, Hinduism or any other faith, it is most certainly a fascinating subject and studying it is also interesting for many. However, just because we see a very commercial reason today for friends and loved ones to exchange presents, does not mean that this is all there is to it.
In fact many believe that the interchange of gifting dates back to the very early centuries of man and woman, even going as far back as the Darwinian theory, for example when our closest cousins in the ape family, Baboons, would use the exchange of food in exchange for sexual favours. This is a theory created by psychologists Hawkes and Ridley. In other explanations, it can also be seen as a way for individuals to express their feelings (Areni et al. 1998) without having to actually say them out loud. This may be as outspoken as a message in a card or as subtle as in the type of offering being passed to the recipient. Further reasons for gift giving include a desire to show long term interest most likely to occur in the early stages of a romantic relationship. Regardless of our motivations for giving and receiving, it is scientifically proven that by use of such acts, males and females have evolved their own well-defined psychological actions, which will in turn, enhance their social fitness. Finally, when it comes to seasonal motivations, there are many different explanations about where it all began and I will certainly be looking to delve into the details of those in future posts.
Who's Interested Anyway?
So you may now be thinking, who is really bothered about why we give and receive, or even further you may be thinking I know why I do it and that's because I want to be nice. This may be true from a peace-of-mind point of view, however there are so many groups of professional individuals that have been studying the ritual for years and years, this means there also have been and continue to be a lot of theories created, which attempt to deeply explain our inner thoughts and emotions when seeking out, purchasing, giving and receiving cards and gifts. Some of the theorists as mentioned above will include Marketers, Psychologists, Economists, Sociologists and even anthropologists. All these types of people have developed their very own ways of researching the subject. Not only professional theorists, but it is also believed that more of the general public are beginning to find fascinating information more easily accessible using the web (and our blog).
Will your kindness be remembered?
Some of the theories mentioned above look closely at the types of gifts we give and what this may mean to the recipient. One example explains that the giving of items that are long-lasting ensures the recipient will remember every time they use it that you were the person who gave it to them. Such component could be a jacket, where each time it is worn, you may say My mum bought me this for my birthday. Other conclusions say the giving of money can be seen as putting less time and effort into what the recipient may want. However, counteractions will explain that the person in receipt of the item doesn't think about the givers thoughts and therefore spending time finding the right card or present is done mainly for a sense of self satisfaction than for anything else. Giving perishable gifts such as flowers or chocolates will become removed from a persons life within a short amount of time and thereby a possibility of forgotten thoughts could be the outcome. There are lots of questions to be asked about the world choices and the giving phenomenon doesn't fall short of those.
So in conclusion, It seems there is no right or wrong answer with regards to why we give or where we even began giving, but I hope to have opened up your mind to realise that it is a fascinating subject and one which interests many. If one can understand what another wants, one can win another round easily.
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