Gift wrapping refers to the act of enclosing a gift in some sort of material. Wrapping paper is a kind of paper designed for gift wrapping. Gifts may also be wrapped in a box. They may be held closed with ribbon and topped with a decorative bow (an ornamental knot made of ribbon).
The use of wrapping paper is first documented in ancient China, where paper was invented in 2nd century BC. In the Southern Song dynasty, monetary gifts were wrapped with paper, forming an envelope known as a chih pao. The wrapped gifts were distributed by the Chinese court to government officials. In the Chinese text Thien Kung Khai Wu, Sung Ying-Hsing states that the coarsest wrapping paper is manufactured with rice straws and bamboo fiber.
Although the Hall brothers Rollie and Joyce Hall, founders of Hallmark Cards, did not invent gift wrapping, their innovations led to the development of modern gift wrapping. They helped to popularize the idea of decorative gift wrapping in the 20th century, and according to Joyce Hall, "the decorative gift-wrapping business was born the day Rollie placed those French envelope linings on top of that showcase."
In Western culture, gifts are often wrapped in wrapping paper and accompanied by a gift note which may note the occasion, the receiver's name and the giver's name. In the United States, an additional 5 million tons of waste are generated over the Christmas gift-giving period; four million tons of this is wrapping paper and shopping bags. Some people attempt to avoid this by unwrapping gifts with care to hopefully allow the paper to be reused, while others use decorated cloth gift sacks that can be easily reused many times; both of these concepts are part of the Green Gifting trend that encourages recycling. Additionally, some people use old newspapers instead of wrapping paper.
In Chinese culture, red wrapping connotes luck.
In Japanese culture, wrapping paper and boxes are common. However, the traditional cloth wrapping called furoshiki is increasing in popularity, particularly as an ecologically friendly alternative to wrapping paper.
- Tsien, Tsuen-Hsuin (1985). Paper and Printing. Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China, Chemistry and Chemical Technology. 5 part 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 38.
- Joseph Needham (1985). Science and Civilisation in China: Paper and Printing. Cambridge University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-521-08690-5. Retrieved 16 April 2013. "In the Southern Sung dynasty, gift money for bestowing upon officials by the imperial court was wrapped in paper envelopes (chih pao)"
- Patrick Regan (15 December 2009). Hallmark: A Century of Giving. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7407-9240-3.
- Waste Facts and Figures, Clean Air Council
- Minister Koike created the "Mottainai Furoshiki" as a symbol of Japanese culture to reduce wastes, Ministry of the Environment
- About Korea - Bojagi, korea.net
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