Top 5 original ideas under 200 euros for your gift holidays this season
The holidays are a time of giving.
When people all over the world spend time and exchange presents with their nearest and dearest.
Many of us also give small gifts to our teachers or paperboys as a token of our gratitude for their dedication or think of people less fortunate at this difficult time of year and donate to charitable causes.
“Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat,
If you haven’t got a penny, then a ha’penny will do,
If you haven’t got a ha’penny, then God bless you!”
Traditional nursery rhyme
In France, there is a similar custom where gifts are offered to those who render a particularly vital or laborious service.
These New Year’s gifts (étrennes) are traditionally presented at the beginning of January and intended to bring the recipient good luck for the year to come.
As we see out the old year and welcome in the new, here is a short introduction to this French tradition along with some suggestions for your first “étrennes”.
An ancient, pagan tradition, étrennes were passed down to us from the Romans.
The name itself derives from a lesser known Roman goddess bearing the delightful name of Strenia, who had her own shrine located close to the Colosseum and alongside a grove dedicated to her.
It was there that at the beginning of each year twigs were clipped and later brought to the arx citadel on the Capitoline Hill. Other sources indicate that King Tatius picked verbena there to offer as presents to those closest to him.
Later, this custom became popular among the Romans, who began to make gifts of figs, dates, honey and other delicacies to those closest to them so as to bring them happiness.
Over the course of time, the tradition continued and, as the years passed and sweets began to seem too meagre offerings, people began to gift bronze and gold coins or even medals.
Each gift symbolized a wish of good luck for the year to come.
Coins were offered to one’s children, the emperor, figures of authority, or whomever else one held dear. Strenia even managed to withstand the ban imposed by the Church, which took umbrage to the custom’s persistence, and survive through the millennia. A little older and changed, certainly, but ever present.
Nowadays, Christmas has replaced Strenia to some extent as far as giving presents to our nearest and dearest is concerned, but the custom still persists for those who offer us a special service: building supervisors, mailmen, firefighters, garbage collectors...
In case you’re still stuck for inspiration, here are 5 original and personal ideas for making sure the happy recipient definitely won’t forget your token of thanks this year.
1 - FOR YOUR SUPER
These people take care of our day-to-day comfort, offer much needed assistance around the building, and brighten our mornings with a cheery hello. Why not offer them a palace?
They don’t deserve any less!
Be a prince, not a pauper, think big and offer them the Louvre Palace with this bronze medal designed by Suzeau.
Beyond its beauty and elegance, this medal offers the indispensable advantage of a map of the palace interior on its obverse.
2 - FOR YOUR MAILMAN
Mailmen bravely battle the elements all year long to ensure that your mail makes it to your mailbox safely every day, so deserve a means of transport which reflects this effort.
It’s a safe bet to say you’ll hit the nail on the head with this beautiful Hungarian silver-plated copper medal which boasts a double advantage: A mount far quicker than a bicycle on the obverse and, in case your mailman has to cross the oceans to reach you, a boat braving the storms on its reverse.
3 - FOR THE FIREFIGHTERS
These brave soldiers are at the ready every hour God sends and put their own lives at risk to save ours. Show your appreciation and show them some silver with this ancient coin dating back to the Sasanian Empire.
A gift fit for an emperor rather than a king!
Triumphant over the flames, the evocative reverse shows Ahura Mazda, the Persian god of wisdom, emerging from the pyre.
4 - FOR YOUR GARBAGE COLLECTORS
Don’t even dream of missing these guys off your list! Without them, our lives would be spent surrounded by trash and squalor. They’re not only indispensable, they’re truly vital.
Their daily toil makes them the kings of the town and your street.
Offer them a throne!
For example, that of the most flamboyant French king, Louis XIV, with this silver ½ écu referred to by the term “à la mèche longue” (with the long curl).
5 - FOR A CHILD
Why not gift the relative of your choice, be it a nephew, niece, grandson, or granddaughter, some luck this year with an American silver “Mercury” dime? This coin has long been associated with peace and prosperity.
What better gift is there?
Here a very nice example minted in San Francisco in 1926.
On that note, we hereby declare the étrennes season officially open and wish you a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2018!
Your NumisCorner.com team
P.S : Leave us a comment below and tell us what étrennes you’re planning on giving this year!
"Fan Design with the Pantheon and the Colosseum" - Anonymous, XVIIIth century
Poster "Achetez vos étrennes au Bazar des Halles et Postes, rues du Louvre" - 1890 - Gallica