Gifts: Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Gifts
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the English began to give New Year’s gifts to family and friends. Popular gifts included oranges, gingerbread, rosemary, wine, marzipan, gloves, stockings, and other articles of clothing, jewelry, and objects made of metals, such as snuff boxes, tea urns, pens, and watches. Children sometimes received little bound books, often texts of religious instruction. By the early nineteenth century, for reasons which remain unclear, the New Year’s gift finally appeared to be dying out. Instead of disappearing completely, however, the expanding Christmas holiday revived and absorbed the ancient custom of midwinter gift giving.