Gifts: German Christmas Gifts
The earliest historical records of Christmas gift giving come from Germany. As early as the sixteenth century some German children received “Christ-bundles” at Christmas time. These bundles contained an assortment of small gifts, such as coins, sugarplums, nuts, apples, dolls, clothing, lesson books, religious books, or writing materials. Some scholars suggest that the traditional Christmas bundle contained at least five things: a coin, an article of clothing, a toy, something tasty to eat, and a pencil box or other scholastic item. Parents also included a small stick in these bundles, which some writers have interpreted as a reminder that chastisement still awaited those who misbehaved. Parents told their children that the Haus-Christ had brought them their gifts (see also Christkindel). Two other German customs encouraged the preparation of simple gifts for the family. The Christmas tree and the Christmas pyramid, decorated with edible treats, such as nuts, apples, cookies, and candy, provided everyone with holiday sweets.
The Christ Child, also brought Christmas gifts to children in six-teenth-century Norway. Children left a plate or a bowl in an obvious place so that the visiting Christ Child could leave them a present. Moreover, in Norway, Christmas gift exchanges among friends and adult family members began as early as the sixteenth century.