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Apple Gifting Day

In Europe, the tradition of giving gifts at the start of the new year goes back to the time before Christ. Celtic druids gave mistletoe, and Romans gave mistletoe, branches from sacred trees, gilded nuts, and coins with the picture of the god Janus. In England, prior to Victorian times, small gifts were regularly given to family and friends on New Year's Day, two common examples being gloves and oranges with a clove. These traditions were brought to America and continued there. The French also gave gifts at the start of a new year and brought their traditions to the new world as well.

Christmas became the traditional day for giving gifts in the new world on account of German and Dutch immigrants. However, in areas of America where English and French culture dominated, gift-giving at the start of the new year persisted for a time. For example, the practice was commonplace in French-dominated New Orleans. In modern times, gift-giving at the start of the new year is a tradition that still takes place in European countries, including Greece, Russia, France, and Switzerland.

The tradition of giving apples as gifts has long been tied to teachers. During pioneer times on the American frontier, teachers often received gifts for payment. The custom of giving them apples continued on after they began receiving wages for their work. Apples were cheap and readily available, especially at the time of the year when school began. Although the idea that teachers are given apples exists more often today as a theory than in practice, on Apple Giving Day they receive them, as does everyone else, in honor of the new year.

How to Observe

Celebrate by giving apples to your family and friends in honor of the new year. You could give out individual apples or put some in a box and wrap it. If you'd like to liven up the holiday, you could make and give out caramel apples, apple turnovers, apple dumplings, or even apple pie.

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