Social Question

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Why are gifts given to people on their birthdays?

Asked by RandomMrAdam (1645points) April 5th, 2010

I can understand children feed on attention and giving gifts to toddlers can be incentive to be a nice kid and not act up. But why, and how did it originate that people receive gifts on their birthday? Do all cultures give gifts on birthdays? If not, which ones don’t?

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28 Answers

njnyjobs's avatar

Generally, birthdays gifts are a way to show our love to those we care about. No matter how old we get, most of us enjoy getting a phone call, an email/txt message or receiving a special card or gift on the anniversary of the day we were born.

As to the history behind it, you can check-out some perspectives here:

davidbetterman's avatar

You think only children enjoy the attention, or a gift for no reason other than it is the day you were born?

lol…If you don’t want one, tell everyone to stop giving them to you.

Disc2021's avatar

It usually is just old custom. In other cultures, they pass down family heirlooms and such. In others – birthdays aren’t even acknowledged.

Personally, I dont see why not. As @davidbetterman mentioned, it’s not only children that enjoy attention or affection on a special day. I really just take it as a part of the celebration.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@davidbetterman I am not against it, I was just curious of why/when it started. Seems a bit selfish that in order to show love, you must spend money and show it in the form of material things. I don’t get that message.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Umm. Because it’s a good excuse to engage in slightly more “energetic” sex?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

To celebrate their existence.

njnyjobs's avatar

@RandomMrAdam Who said that you must spend money in order to present a birthday gift? There are other ways of showing your love and affection to celebrate a birthday other than buying material things for the celebrant.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@njnyjobs I agree. Davidbetterman seemed to imply in his response that I didn’t like to give gifts and that if I didn’t like gifts, to tell people to stop giving them to me. I wasn’t trying to be selfish so I wish people wouldn’t jump to conclusions about my character based on this question. I was just curious of why gifts are associated with birthdays (and almost any holiday now)

njnyjobs's avatar

@RandomMrAdam… my point is gift-giving has become a convenient way of showing that love and affection, regardless of the occasion. You can give gifts that are not bought…it can be handed-down, such as heirlooms and family jewels. They can be created or cooked or baked or written. Nonetheless, they are all gifts. What you are eluding to is the material/commercial concept of gift-giving. . . brought about by enterprising minds in a free-market society.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@njnyjobs I am not trying to argue whether it is right or wrong to give gifts here. I think we are getting way off topic. I understand handing things down such as heirlooms or family jewels but waiting until a birthday isn’t necessary. Gifts to show thanks for something is okay, but lets focus less on the morality of actually giving the gift (which I agree is a kind gesture) but why was it started, originated and carried out through history as tradition?

slick44's avatar

Today just so happens to be my birthday. and its just nice to be noticed.

njnyjobs's avatar

Well, Happy Birthday to you @slick44 . . . may you have many more happy days to come!

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@slick44 Happy Birthday :)

RandomMrAdam's avatar

Instead of a gift, I will give you some lurve ;)

ZEPHYRA's avatar


vbabe96's avatar

@slick44 Happy birthday to you!

In response to the question, I enjoy getting gifts because it makes me feel special. Getting a gift from someone means they thought of you and wanted to make you smile with their gift. For example for one of my birthday’s my friend Nicole brought me a cheesecake and a container of cherries because that is my favorite dessert. I buy gifts for the same reason. When I have a friend who has a birthday coming up I search for the gift I know they like. Besides it’s fun to celebrate life.

loser's avatar

I think it’s so people will feel less depressed.

Happy Birthday Slick! Lurve for your Birthday! (I don’t want you to get depressed!!!)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I tried to start a tradition in our family where on their birthdays the kids would get presents for us (parents). Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince my wife that this was a good idea, and then they met their friends at school, and the idea was history…

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Until relatively recent times, humans did not regularly live beyond their forties or fifties. In our culture, we developed customs of celebrating surviving another year. That is one of the reasons for celebrating the coming of each season, the new year and the anniversary of our day of birth.

Gifts do not need to have to have a monetary value. We should make a point of reminding people about whom we care, that we value and remember them.

Don’t wait for birthdays!

davidbetterman's avatar

@RandomMrAdam Talk about jumping to conclusions.

“Seems a bit selfish that in order to show love, you must spend money and show it in the form of material things.”

Where in my response do you see me saying anything about the gift needing to cost money or be expensive. I give gifts that I make myself.

Also ”Davidbetterman seemed to imply in his response that I didn’t like to give gifts ”

What??? You are really funny. I never implied anything of the sort.

No BDay present for you this year.

kittybee's avatar

It’s probably really just a tradition. Maybe it was originally just an excuse to give someone you love a nice present. But over the years it kinda became mandatory. And more expensive.

slick44's avatar

Didn’t it start will the birth of jesus?

davidbetterman's avatar


I would like some gold and frankincense, but you can keep your myrrh.

goodrich's avatar

Happy B day

It is when u are born. People want to make u happy

Response moderated
JackiePaper's avatar

my favorite gift to give is flowers…..“Here… watch these die!”

Actually that’s just a Demetri Martin joke.

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