By Katerina Papadea,
Christmas is the most magical holiday of the year and both the decorations and the gifts, which are an essential part of the festive season, contribute to this characterization. A popular way to exchange gifts is the Secret Santa game. This game is often played before the start of school and work holidays, while it is especially enjoyable at family gatherings, where there are several people. In the Secret Santa game, a group of people is assigned to buy a gift for another person anonymously. The game is so named preciously because the recipients of the gifts have no idea who the Secret Santa Claus is. The choice of people for the role of the Secret Santa Claus and the role of the recipient is often made by chance and, once people open their gifts, they try to guess their Secret Santa Claus.
Secret Santa is primarily a Western tradition and, to this day, popular in the Western world, although not always with the same names. For example, in Ireland, it is known as Kris Kringle or Kris Kindle (Christkindl), but most people know it by the latter. The tradition of Secret Santa goes far back, but a famous origin story connects it with Larry Dean Stewart, an American philanthropist and business owner who gave anonymous Christmas gifts every year. In fact, he handed out $100 bills to people in need on the street, totaling 1.3 million dollars in 26 years, and donated 25,000 dollars in $100 bills to New Yorkers after the 9/11 attack. In 2006, Stewart appeared as the Secret Santa Claus that everyone had been wondering about for a long time and ended up becoming a reluctant celebrity with worshipers, also founding the Secret Santas Company. However, the logic of the secret gift has always been part of many cultures, with the most typical example being the Nordic countries and Julkklap, which literally means “Christmas hit” in German. In that version, you knock on the neighbor’s door, open it, and leave the gift inside, without anyone seeing you, leaving a witty message instead of your name.
So far, Secret Santa is an enduring legacy, as millions of people who met this story are motivated to contribute, including Indian chef and restauranteur Vikas Khanna, who has brought happiness to many in Puna with his donations and contribution. A more modern version of Secret Santa is Twitter Secret Santa, which was started by Darshan Parekh. Based on this, Twitter users are asked to fill in a form with their name and contact details, attaching together their wish list. With Twitter management, there is a certain moderator in each city, who gives the participants the names of their “Santees” and the game starts.
As we see, Larry has inspired millions of people around the world to do random acts of kindness, making many aware of the social impact it can have. Therefore, today there is no doubt about the great spread that Secret Santa has received. Businesses have made the most of it by offering items in the Secret Santa‘s gift category and giving the game another dimension. In addition, this game connects people to each other during the holidays, thus acquiring the character of a friendly and successful tradition, as people look forward to connecting with each other and exchanging gifts of small or large value, but still symbolic.
- Playing Secret Santa this year? Here is the story of the man who started it all, yourstory.com, Available here
- Secret Santa, wikipedia.org, Available here