The midwinter gift has passed through many transformations in its two-thousand-year history. These gifts served different purposes in different times and places. They might symbolize good wishes for the coming year, affirm one’s social rank, generate fun and excitement, redistribute wealth from richer to poorer, demonstrate affection, or serve as a means of honoring the spiritual significance of the holiday. The gifts themselves have changed along with their significance. The sweaters, neckties, and toys of today’s American Christmas seem far removed from the twigs that the Romans exchanged with one another in honor of Kalends. Finally, several midwinter holidays developed gift-giving traditions over the centuries, the most recent being Christmas. In spite of its relatively short history the Christmas gift has become a central element of contemporary Christmas celebrations (see also Commercialism).