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The History of Housewarming Gifts

Posted by Gift Prose on 5/9/2015 to General

For the vast majority of people, buying a house is arguably the largest and most significant purchase we will make in our lifetime. Many people never get the chance to buy a home, and the rest of us will likely only do it once or twice. So, to call home buying a life-changing experience is perhaps stating the obvious, and this sort of life-changing event is always just cause for a celebration. This is why our ancestors created the phenomenon known as the Housewarming Party.

Origins of the Housewarming Party

The history of the housewarming can be traced all the way back to medieval times, and different cultures have their own myths and legends that surround the housewarming tradition. The first reason is pretty obvious; to heat the house. After all, it was pretty cold back in the days before furnaces and fiberglass insulation, and warming up a home for the occupants was a matter of some importance. Also, our superstitious ancestors believed that wayward evil spirits would dwell in unoccupied homes, and by lighting fires and warming the home, they could cast the spirits out and make it safe for people to live in.

Housewarming Traditions Around the World

While different cultures celebrated the housewarming in different ways, there was one constant that everyone shared, no matter where the housewarming was taking place, and that was the giving of a housewarming gift. Now, unlike modern times, where you can simply go online and buy a fabulous housewarming gift basket, older versions of the housewarming gift were more basic and utilitarian in nature. For many civilizations, those "useful gifts" also catered to their firmly entrenched superstitions. A few of the oldest traditional housewarming gifts are:

Bread, Salt & Wine
Bread: Given in the hope that on one in that home would ever go hungry.
Salt: Given to represent that life should always hold flavor for those who live in that home.
Wine: Given as a symbol of prosperity, and because everybody in those times drank wine.

A Broom: Some cultures gave a broom to figuratively sweep away any lingering spirits, but also because a clean home is a healthier home, and no wish is better than to live in good health.

Candles: These were very functional gifts, especially before humankind harnessed electricity. Every home needed many candles, and friends and family who came to the housewarming would often bring several candles to help build a stock for the new homeowners.

Pineapples: The pineapple has since become symbolic of the spirit of hospitality, but Caribbean civilizations hundreds of years ago often gave the owners of a new home pineapples to welcome them into the community.

Gift Baskets: Of all the housewarming gifts, the one that has evolved and grown with Western civilization is the gift basket. Historians argue about whether the native Americans or Europeans first started loading up baskets with useful and tasty gifts for the housewarming celebration, but today it is the most accepted form of housewarming gift. There are literally hundreds of different housewarming gift baskets available online, making it easier ever to give a gift that not only fits the personalities of the new home owners, but keeps those pesky evil spirits at bay as well.

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