Christmas is nearly here.  As the day which Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus gets closer I began to ponder what the holiday means and how people today currently celebrate it.  The most common association with the holiday is the exchange of gifts amongst family, friends, and perhaps others one closely associates with like co-workers, classmates, etc.  But what are the origins of this practice?  How did it evolve into what it is today?

The primary source for this practice can be traced back to the presentation of gifts by the Magi to the infant Jesus on the Epiphany which in effect actually occurs during the first week of January.  St. Nicholas of Turkey started giving gifts to the poor in the 4th century and the charitable act evolved into gift-giving across most of the world by the 10th century.

So it’s clear that the the act has Christian roots.  Knowing this I feel compelled to ask the question, “Do atheists exchange gifts on Christmas?” The answer to this is more than likely yes.  I have read of dozens of instances occurring just this year where atheist or anti-religious groups have protested Nativity displays by businesses or have stated they feel uncomfortable when someone wishes them “Merry Christmas” and so the politically correct term of “Happy Holidays” must be used instead.  Is it likely that these same groups still exchange gifts even though they publicly outcry to have any/all Christian Christmas displays banned?

I think yes.