Did you know that Dirty Santa gift exchange has other names? It’s also known as White Elephant gift exchange, or yankee Swap. While all these customs share the core principles of the game played, there are some minor differences with each one and Dirty Santa stands out by amount of gift swapping, or “stealing” that’s involved in the game.
The Christmas gift exchange tradition dates back in history. It has traditionally been a special time of year, when people give each other a helping hand, a gift of compassion and display of appreciation. There has been Christmas gifts as long as there has been Christmas celebrations, but the Dirty Santa gift exchange sprouted after groups celebrating got large and it became impossible for everyone to buy each other a gift. Thus, a tradition was born to show up with a single gift, and leave with single gift as well while having a great time in between swapping and stealing gifts that others had opened.
Tale Of Burdening Gifts
If you have played Dirty Santa before, you already know that these are not just ordinary Christmas gifts. Lot of times guests bring gifts that are hilarious, inappropriate, or would not be something entirely desirable. This is not a coincidence. This tradition stems from an old tale of how Kings gifted burdening presents to their courtiers.
As legend has it, in Ancient Siam, which is today the territory of Thailand, the King would gift the less desired courtiers a type of gift that would require a lot of care, and the value of the gift could never justify the cost of maintenance, but courtiers were bound to accepting and caring for the gift regardless, as they would not dare upset the King.
The gift in this instance was a white, or albino elephant.
Dirty Santa has ties with White Elephant gift exchange, but has it’s differences, one of them being the emphasis of fun “stealing” that takes place much more often with Dirty Santa than any other variation of this Christmas favorite game.