Mill Hill Greenland Santa
I was so delighted by that article that I found about Christmas and New Year's in Germany and France, that I have yet another excerpt. (It was long, I haven't bumped up against Fair Use laws yet.) I kind of love how this analysis sucks the romance out of gift giving. (Does that make me Scrooge or the Grinch?)
As New Year's day approaches, every article, including bonbons, increases in price, if not in value; but would you suppose it, gentle reader, nearly all of them may, after that day, be had at half price--and some of those that were actually sold for a third of their cost--at some second hand shop, where they have been disposed of for cash. To think that you have made a present to a lady which she has changed for something more agreeable to her taste, or for ready money to be afterwards expended at the ball or the opera! The thought is absolutely shocking, entirely destitute of romance--and yet how perfectly simple and natural, after a man is accustomed to the uses of this world! Mark, I do not say that there is a single lady in Paris that would dispose of all her New Year's presents. I have no doubt, but that she will keep some of them; but what is she to do with the rubbish--the tokens of fealty and not of affection? I have always disliked this ridiculous custom of making indiscriminate presents to ladies. It's like paying attention to the whole sex, which is not flattering to any woman, who prides herself (and what woman does not?) on her particular attractions. Besides, it is a hard thing for a man who has many female acquaintances, to provide presents for them all, and, at the same time, to suit their different tastes, not to speak of the expense which this attempt to make one's self agreeable entails on every male inhabitant of France, who is not absolutely a bore. And what does he get for it? A few hundred kisses--not by one and the same lady, (that would indeed be quite a different thing,) but by as many ladies as he has made presents to, and kisses too, that are not voluntarily bestowed, but merely snatched from them, for the most part in presence of witnesses! Was there ever anything so shallow and insipid?
"Christmas and New Year in France and Germany," Francis J. Grund. Godeys' Magazine and Lady's Book. January 1848; 36 p 8