The holiday season is rife with tradition. One of the most recognizable traditions involves wrapping gifts. While the wrapping paper many gift givers use today is a relatively recent phenomenon, the tradition of wrapping gifts is centuries old, with some historians even suggesting it dates back to ancient times.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis notes that many ancient cultures celebrated various holidays that included exchanging gifts, adding that it’s very likely that, even in ancient times, gifts were wrapped to surprise their eventual recipients. Bojagi is a traditional Korean wrapping cloth that might have begun being used some time during the Three Kingdoms of Korea period, which began in 57 BC and ended in AD 668. The Japanese tradition of furoshiki, which can be traced back to the 17th century and possibly as far back as AD 710, involves using a traditional wrapping cloth to transport certain items, including gifts.

As for the gift wrap familiar to today’s holiday celebrants, that traces its origins to the early 1900s. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis notes that Eli Hyman and Morris Silverman founded the first gift wrap company in the United States in 1903. Unfortunately for gift givers back then, adhesive tape had not yet been invented in 1903, and wouldn’t be for another 27 years.

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