The giving and receiving of gifts is one of the most notable aspects of Christmas in Australia. Of course, like most other things to do with Christmas, gift giving has become very commercialised over time.
Australia is a multicultural country so the method of delivery of Christmas gifts has several variations. Overall, during December people order, buy or make gifts for members of their family and wrap them in colourful Christmas paper. The gifts are then placed under the Christmas tree to be given to the receiver on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning.
The mythical figure of Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas is said to bring gifts for children in a flying sleigh pulled by reindeer. He delivers these by sliding down their chimney and placing the gifts in stockings that children have left hanging near the Christmas tree or laying on the ends of their beds.
Gift giving at Christmas has become a custom over many centuries. Its origins relate back to the original meaning of Christmas when Jesus Christ was born over 2000 years ago. There are two aspects: 1. Christians believe that God sent his son, Jesus, as a gift to mankind. 2. When Jesus was born, wise men from the east brought gifts to Jesus’ parents, Mary and Joseph. These gifts were symbolic gifts relating to Jesus’ purpose on Earth and were gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Today, businesses and merchants have their best profits at Christmas time and often spend a large part of the year in preparation for the extra shopping people do. In times past, the gifts Santa brought to children’s stockings may have been as simple as an orange and a book or toy. Today, gifts for children and adults can be jewellery, technology, movie tickets, gift cards, pets, DVDs, books, appliances and even, for some, cars or holidays.