What Country Started the Christmas Gift Exchange?

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The modern Christmas gift exchange became a central tradition in the 1820s in the United States when newspapers began showing Christmas-themed ads on their pages. Within 40 years, the Macy's store in New York City opened their doors until midnight on Christmas Eve to satisfy demand for Christmas gift shopping.

Traditionally, gift giving is attributed to the offering of the Three Kings in Christmas Nativity. Outside of Biblical tradition, gift giving was also a Roman tradition that occurred during Saturnalia. During the 13th century, nuns in France also distributed gifts to the poor on St. Nicholas' Eve. Santa Claus, the secular symbol of Christmas gift-giving did not appear in newspaper ads until the 1840s.