The story behind White Gift Sunday

White-Gift-SundayThe Presbyterian Church resource files credit the beginning of White Gift Sunday to the wife of a Methodist minister in 1904 in Ohio. She knew the legend of the Chinese people who loved their king so much that they each brought him a gift on his birthday. The gifts were all wrapped in white paper in order to emphasize the love of the people and the intent of the gift, not the size or value of it.

The minister’s wife and his daughters asked their congregation to bring a gift wrapped in white for their king, Jesus. These were often packages of food, the kind of thing that even the poorest in the congregation could bring. They were Christmas love gifts to be distributed to people in need in their community.

This beautiful idea quickly spread around the Christian world in the early 1900s, and is still celebrated today as White Gift Sunday. One of the Sundays of Advent is designated as this special Sunday. There are many variations of this Sunday service, celebrated by Christians from England, Canada, and the United States, to Brazil, India, and Australia.

White Gift Sunday represents the spirit of Christian charity at Christmas, but can demonstrate a much more personal and thoughtful giving than simply writing a check.  There are different ways to celebrate this special Advent Sunday, but each one of them is based on the message of love at Christmas. And, each variation provides opportunity for everyone to participate, from the youngest Sunday school child to the seniors in the congregation.

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