Why Do We Give Gifts on Birthdays? The Tradition Unveiled

Have you ever wondered why we give gifts on birthdays? Well, I did so I went looking into the history of why we give gifts to each other on our birthdays.

The general reason behind birthday gift-giving starts at birth and carries on throughout our lives. As we grow we require new and different things to function in society. Whether it is new clothes and shoes as we grow or ever-changing support with activities and interests there never seems to be a time on the way to adulthood that we don’t require something new. So this celebration of a birthday once a year seems like a great time to give a loved one something they really need.

It does not matter the size of the gift it can be a block of chocolate, a book, a single stem flower, a card, or something you have made with your hands such as a birthday cake. The birthday person will know that you appreciate them, that you care, and that you want them to know that you as a person are to be celebrated.

Why give gifts on Birthdays

The History Behind Gift Giving

When did people start giving birthday presents? It totally depends upon a person’s beliefs, different cultures, and what they were told growing up you will find one to satisfy your curiosity below.

1. Some People Believe

It goes way back to ancient cultures, for example, the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. As you can imagine if you got through to the ripe old age of one year old it truly would be a cause for celebration.

Come on you’ve seen Game Of Thrones – people dying every five minutes.

Most cultures, however, did not celebrate birthdays annually. They chose to celebrate various milestones in one’s life. Including one’s entry into the world “The Birth”.

Societies today still celebrate birth it is called “wetting the baby’s head”. Usually, the males in the family will head and celebrate with alcohol maybe cigars and congratulate each other on the new addition to the family.

Other occasions would include becoming of age {or adulthood} and marriage.

It was not until the fifth century BC, that a Greek historian observed that wealthy Persians celebrated birthdays by feasting on baked camels, cows, and donkeys.

It is reported that the Romans from the start of the first century AD annually celebrated birthdays and showered the emperor with gifts. These so-called parties became rather wild throughout the Empire and various religious sectors tried to put a stop to them.

2. Others Believe

That birthday gift-giving was derived from the Bible which described what the three wise men did when Jesus was born. Which was to bring Jesus gifts at his birth.

3. Some Others Believe

Another theory originated in Europe hundreds of years ago.

People believed that during a person’s birthday, evil spirits would haunt and harm the celebrant.

To protect the person whose birthday it was, family and friends would gather together and bring presents with them to ward off evil spirits. {The gifts were believed to be symbolic tools!}

birthday card


Modern-Day Reasons Why We Give Gifts On Birthdays

In some families, gift-giving begins at birth and continues right through until you are considered an adult. But in others, it continues right throughout their lives. They continue to celebrate by giving gifts every year.

In other families, many stop the gift-giving when you become an adult, but still celebrate a birthday by getting together every year. Continuing a tradition in this way the whole family reconnects and has birthday cake.:)

A Win-Win I say.


When we are born is when gift-giving starts. After birth, it depends upon family and friends as to whether they continue giving gifts to that child.


History has said they generally a child receives gifts from their parents and maybe their grandparents every year on their birthdays. This can change as the child gets older.

Throughout the years there are extended family members, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that come and go. So you could receive gifts from them sporadically.

Birthday Parties

If you attend a birthday party you would almost always be required to give a gift.

Some of us may have friends that want us to donate to a cause or charity instead of giving a gift – which is awesome. Others simply stipulate no gifts and mean it – which is also awesome.


In some families gift giving to the celebrant is a tradition. The tradition is not only for birthdays but for all other occasions as well Christmas, baptisms, Valentine’s Day, Engagements, and Weddings.


“A Milestone is an important point in the progress or development of something: a very important event or advance!”


Surviving another birthday would come under this definition. Milestone gift giving can be a little different from general gifts one may give.

You might want to give a gift to celebrate something that the celebrant has achieved throughout the previous year.

Alternatively, if you know that a milestone is to occur in the coming year you may want to give a gift to support this.

For example, is a child going off to their first sleepover camp or to camp in the school holidays? A gift to support this milestone would be perfect and much welcomed I am sure.

Maybe your best friend is going on an international vacation for the first time. A gift referring to the place of destination would be fun.

bottle oc candy



Some of us just give gifts automatically without even needing special occasions, but on one’s birthday, they will appreciate the thought you put into an appreciative gift. Gifts of appreciation could be as simple as a cookbook or novel that someone you appreciate is wanting.

The feeling of appreciation is only second to feeling loved.


Gifts that show love are on a whole other level. Simply because we all give gifts of love to so many different people in our lives.

It can be tricky sometimes if the person receiving the gift is someone we are not in close contact with on a day-to-day basis.

This requires careful thought and sometimes assistance from others to get the perfect gift that shows how much you love the celebrant.

I guarantee that when you do give either the gift of appreciation or love they will feel happy, appreciated, and loved.


The personal bond of friendship is sacred. Also, everyone is different much the same as couples in a romantic relationship.

The couple in the friendship has a gift-giving code that is very private and strengthens their bond year after year.

Why is this? Put simply we tell our friends things we would never tell our partner or family members.

What is the benefit of this? You have an insight into the things they really like and want!

I have honestly given some of my best friends things I would not buy anybody else as a birthday gift. Purely because I know for a fact that they actually want these items.

Gift Cards

One of the best gifts is receiving a personal handwritten note of happy birthday on your special day. Greeting cards have been spreading good wishes and good cheer for centuries. Gift givers should note that one of the all-time great gifts is a card as they can be kept for a long time.

Is a Birthday Gift Necessary?

The answer may depend upon the relationship between the gifter and the birthday girl or birthday boy. Certainly, for close friends and family, special gifts are a way to show how much you care. It doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy; sometimes, the best thoughtful gifts are homemade or heartfelt.

On the other hand, if you are not good friends and don’t have a close relationship with the birthday person, a gift may not be required. In this case, a card or simple message may suffice. The bottom line is that it’s up to the gifter to decide whether a birthday gift is necessary.

How Important is Gift Giving in a Relationship?

It can be tough to gauge the importance of gifts in a relationship. While some people see gifts as a way to show love and appreciation, others see them as an unnecessary expense. There are a few things to consider when trying to determine the role of gifts in your relationship.

First, think about your own attitude towards gift-giving. Do you feel pressured to give lavish gifts, or do you prefer to give smaller tokens of appreciation? If you tend to feel overwhelmed by the idea of gift-giving, it might be best to scale back your expectations.

On the other hand, if you enjoy finding thoughtful gifts for your loved ones, then gift-giving can be a great way to show how much you care.

Another thing to consider is your partner’s attitude towards gifts. If they are not particularly interested in receiving them, then it might not be worth putting pressure on yourself to find the perfect present. However, if they appreciate receiving heartfelt gifts, then gift-giving can be a wonderful way to express your love.

Ultimately, the role of gift-giving in a relationship is something that you and your partner will need to decide together. With a little thought and communication, you can figure out what works best for both of you.

Read more about relationships and gift-giving in my article: Why are Gifts so important in a relationship?

In Conclusion, Why Do We Give Gifts on Birthdays

Regardless of whether gifts are exchanged for a short time or throughout a lifetime birthdays and loved ones should be recognized and celebrated.

It is almost free to send a card, pick up the telephone and say “Happy Birthday”, or send a text message. You can even wait till Facebook alerts you at 9:00 am that it is one of your family member’s or friends’ birthdays and send a birthday emoji.

The recognition of the celebrant will make their birthday celebrations extra special.

Also when you are giving or receiving a gift next time why not share one of the stories as to why we started giving gifts centuries ago?

Then thank the gift giver or receiver for continuing the tradition.

Gift ideas for someone special…

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