In addition to the parties that are organized by birthday parties, it is common practice for people to give out gifts on the birthdays. Among the gifts commonly given out on birthdays include the toys, jewelry, flowers, birthday cards, books, paper money, checks among others. The gifts that are given out range from the age of the celebrant, the relationship between the individual giving out the gift and the celebrant to social class among others. In some cases, the celebrant is the one who is expected to treat the guests in a special manner but this ranges from society to society and may also vary depending on the cultural stereotypes of the community of the celebrant. These parties may be held at home, or the guests could be invited to a place to a restaurant where they are expected to join in the merry making and feasting to mark an individual’s birthday.
A gift or present is defined as an item that is given to an individual without the expectation of any form of payment from the person offering the present. Although some individuals offering gifts have an intention of receiving something in return, an idea referred to reciprocity gifts are meant to be free. In a number of cultures, gifts are usually wrapped or packaged in wrapping paper and in some like the Chinese the color of the wrapper conveys a tremendous message for instance red connotes luck. However, it is worth noting that in some case, giving of gifts could mean giving a bribe especially when the in such situations where the gift is offered with some strings attached to an implicit or explicit agreement between the two parties involved. For instance, the given of the gift and the person receiving it.For this and a number of other reasons, the some government workers in some countries have strict rules regarding the gifts that they receive of those given to them. In the law of property, a gift refers to a voluntary transfer of any property between any two individuals known as the donor and grantor to another one known as the grantee or done without any valuable consideration. For any gift to be practical, legally the grantor must have had an intention of giving the gift to the grantee with the intent of donating and has to be accepted by the done.
It should be remembered that the birthday gifts are sometimes offered during the at birth of an individual in which cases these could have a meaning attached to them. For instance, the three wise men in the Bible also called the Magi talked about in the bible carried gifts with them as they went to witness the birth of Jesus Christ (Mathew 2:1-12).The gifts that these wise men carried included Gold, Myrrh and Frankincense and each of them had a significance as implied by in the Bible. For instance the gold was a symbol of Kingship on Earth, myrrh was a symbol of death and the frankincense was a symbol of deity.
Marcel Mauss writes that system of giving out gifts that were referred to as the contractual gifts in Samoa was no only confined to marriage but was hugely present at the birth of a child, sickness, girls, puberty, funeral ceremonies and trade.Marcel further presents that it was common to birth ceremonies after receiving the gifts that were termed as Oloa and Tonga, that could be translated as masculine and feminine that the parents of the of the child were not left not richer than they were prior to the gift offerings (Mauss).However, although the husband and wife did no increase in wealth because of the gift. They always remained pleased that they had been honored by the multitude of gifts that they received at the birth of their child.
The Oloa and Tonga are gifts that are an obligation permanent by nature according to the Samoan cultures and the returns were always meant to be through systems of returns made through properly designed systems of rights that would compel them to give. In the Samoan cultures, the cross-cousin marriages were a very common and a rule in most societies.In those societies it was always common for the father to give way his child to his brother or sister in law to be brought up and the brother in law could refer to this child as a gift (Tonga) also considered part of the feminine property (Mauss). The Tongais then being captured by the native society and continues to flow through the family lineage by its transference from the parents to the children as a gift. On the other hand, to the parents, the child is also taken as a source of property commonly called a lot of the parents just like that received by the parties from those who adopt it do long as this child lives. The sacrifice natural ties will foster the creation of a systematic facility in the foreign and native property.
Marcel Mauss further writes that total presentation of a gift does not only carry with it an obligation to repay but it also has two other implications, for instance, the obligation of giving and the other obligation of receiving the gifts that are being brought forth by the grantor. It is always easy to find a multitude of facts regarding the obligation to give as far as gifts are concerned. For instance, the elders in the community like the clan heads, the households and people in such categories are much time constrained when it comes to demanding hospitality(Mauss).
Marx presents an insight into the commodities that ought to be given out as commodities as he describes that these commodities come in a wide variety of shapes and forms, for example, those that possess a use value, the good like iron, corn, linen among others. He further writes that these are commodities only because they are two fold in the sense that they act as objects of utility and at the same time they act as depositories of value. These objects thus manifest themselves as mere commodities only of they have a physical form and a value form. Marx thus concludes that the commodities normally come in natural form and value form and he claims that we do not know the value-form of the commodity until we know hoe man labored to bring the commodity into existence (Marx).
He explains this by using an analogy of the 20 linen yards and the other of a coat to give an explanation of the two of them. In this analogy, he claims that the statement that 20 linen yards are equivalent to 1 coat simply labels two value forms. Marx thus claims that making a comparison of 20 yards of Linen to its self would be meaningless but possesses meaning only when it is compared to some other items(Marx). Thus Marx claims that linen is an object of utility with a value that can only be determined by making a comparison with another similar commodity and the value attached to any object before it is exchanged in form of a gift or commodity in exchange is referred to as the exchange value.
The concept of attaching value to the value to any commodity or good is the main determinant in the process of giving birthday gifts or gifts of any kind in any exchange scenario and at times explains why people give out a give quantity or value of a commodity with expectation of something in return or reciprocity. For instance, an individual will give an item to an individual(although as a gift) expecting that the individual will at one point give him a similar item when his time comes.
Burnham, Peter. Capitalism:Theconcise Oxford Dictionary of Politics. Oxford: Oxford University, 2003.
Marx, Karl. Critique of the Capitalist system. London: Penguin Books, (1990) 1867.
Mauss, Mercel. The Gift:Forms and Function of exchange in Archaic Societies. London.NewYork: M.M.Norton and Company, 1990.