The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

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The Custom of Holiday Gift Giving

The+Custom+of+Holiday+Gift+Giving

The holiday season is a time centered around the idea of giving, and in America, it has been an outstanding tradition to give gifts to family and friends during this season. However, opinions about the value of these customs vary.

 

Wharton professor Dr. Barbara Mellers states that when this custom first originated, “gifts were simple and modest forms of charity.” This encompasses one of the core values of gift-giving: an act to show appreciation and to form connections between individuals. Additionally, “we have evolved to actually experience joy from giving gifts to others,” as Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, states. The act of giving gifts is one that gives happiness to both the recipient and the giver of a gift, making it a custom that most people look forward to every year.

 

But, gift giving can often become stressful in the holiday season. “There is an expectation that you’ll give someone a gift,” says Sydney Choi, a senior. These pressures can often lead people to feel obligated to buy gifts for other people, spending money they don’t have. According to journalist Joshua Becker, during the holiday season, “consumers who went into debt over the holiday season racked up an average of $1054 in new debt over the timeframe,” and 28% of shoppers entering the holiday season are still paying off debt from last year’s gift shopping.” People often equate the monetary value of a gift with its quality, which can cause even more frustration and financial burden.

 

As students in the holiday season, we also may participate in many different gift exchanges with our peers, like Secret Santa and White Elephant. But, because of the need to buy gifts while aligning with different rules and budgets, gifts can often be less thoughtful or even wasteful. “I don’t like them because it removes the feelings from gifts,” Mia Andrews, a student, said. These exchanges, while mostly fun, remove the authenticity and genuinity of giving gifts to others.

 

Gift giving itself is a custom with intentions of creating connections and of expressing joy and appreciation. As we continue through the holiday season, this is a reminder that genuine and thoughtful gestures, without worries of extra financial burdens, capture the true spirit of the holidays.

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