Drawing upon prescriptive literature, trade journals, diaries and letters, historian Ellen Litwicki explores the emergence of Christmas gift-giving at the turn of the twentieth century, highlighting the role of gifts as symbols of family (and other) relationships, as well as how gift customs were influenced by commercial interests.

Ellen Litwicki is a professor of history at State University of New York at Fredonia and author of America’s Public Holidays, 1865-1920.