Sheldon Cooper: Wait! You bought me a present?
Sheldon Cooper: Why would you do such a thing?
Penny: I don’t know. ‘Cause its Christmas?
Sheldon Cooper: Oh, Penny. I know you think you are being generous, but the foundation of gift giving is reciprocity. You haven’t given me a gift. You’ve given me an obligation.
Howard Wolowitz: Don’t feel bad, Penny, it’s a classic rookie mistake. My first Hanukah with Sheldon, he yelled at me for eight nights.
Penny: Now, hey, it’s okay. You don’t have to get me anything in return.
Sheldon Cooper: Of course I do. The essence of the custom is that I now have to go out and purchase for you a gift of commensurate value and representing the same perceived level of friendship as that represented by the gift you’ve given me. It’s no wonder suicide rates skyrocket this time of year.
This is a bit of very funny commedy.
But like all good commedy it gives pause for thought.
This part actually explains why wise Odin warns against over bloting (sacrificing / offering) in the Havamál.
Blot does not mean going without.
That, in a sense, defies logic. In this case the logic would be that nothing you have would be there in the first place without the Gods. Even if it is man made.
It also implies that you would have the Gods do most things FOR you (making them a “wishing machine” or “Santa list” of sorts).
For bigger things it was not uncommon in the pre Christian Europe (and even some contemporary Christians do this) to give something “ex voto”.
In a sense “a deal with God(s).
In short, a gift promised to be given AFTER the fact.
This gives the Gods the option of saying “No deal”.
However, on gift giving, there is a case of faulty “math”.
Seeing one gift of equal worth as cancelling another out disregards a third component, the act of giving itself.
The true value of gift giving and sacrifices lies in the act of giving and recieving and its extended effects, not in the objects given.
Establishing a kinship with the Gods, Spirits, mankind and Ancestors ( =creation, surroundings, humanity and history).
Over giving smacks of agenda, lazyness and egotism rather than generosity.
If someone drowned you in expensive gifts the enjoyment of the gifts would sooner or later be replaced by wondering just what the hell the giver was after anyway? Whats in it for him / her / them?
“There is no such thing as a free lunch”
Photo: Thorsvin http://thorsvin.wordpress.com/
Though i agree with most of what the author says i would like to correct / expand on a few things (mainly historical):
I do agree that this must be adressed though.We live in a society of labels and terms.Personally i dont adhere to many of these labels as far as my custom goes but we are still defined and understodi by what we call ourselves (or others call us).
Having said that, Heathenry, like most European pre Christian religions is orthoprax, thus, what goes on in your mind, your exact beliefs, thoughts and emotions are your business.
But hey, if anything should be a Norse custom, rocking boats should be it. ;)