The Christmas Tie
Who came up with the idea of the Christmas tie and why is it still a Christmas present tradition
for many families?
It's become Dad's, and really any male family members go-to gift when you have nothing else to
give - a Christmas tradition ... sometimes, even when the recipient doesn't wear ties. It was a
tradition in my family for many years when my husband was in the United States Marine Corps,
which actually, I have no idea why because he wore uniform ties. But every year, he received a
tie from his sons and I, whether he needed or wanted one. In later years, it became a
challenge to find the goofiest tie to see if he'd wear it anywhere.
Ties, or some semblance of a tie have been around for centuries. There's evidence of ties on the
terracotta soldiers found in the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang in 221 BCE. But most experts date the initial appearance of the "tie" in the 17th century. Reportedly, "Croatian
mercenaries, hired in Paris by King Louis XIV, wore cloth bands around their necks to ward off
natural elements, which in their line of work included sword slashes." In addition to warding off fatal blows," neckwear took on an inflated importance, as even novelist Honore de Balzac wrote in 1818 that a cravat was protection against "colds, stiff necks, inflammations, toothache."1
It's really not known for sure when the Christmas tradition of giving neckties begin, but it's most
likely during the Victorian age. It's definitely been around for at least a hundred years,
because this short commentary, found reprinted in the Fayette Falcon out of Sommerville, Tenn.,
is proof that even in 1919, men were already over that particular Christmas tradition!
Buying Unsuitable Ties
Tragedy Enough in Such Christmas Presents Purchased by Women, But They Might Do Worse.
"Look at the trouble that is being stored up there," sneered the morbid pessimist as he pointed
to a group of women around the necktie counter.
"It would be funny," he continued, "if it were not so tragic. Why it is that lovely women with all
her eye for the beautiful and with all her accomplishments cannot select a necktie for a man is
one of the things that rank with the unfathomable mysteries of life. I would sooner send a blind
man to buy me a "warranted sound" horse than I would enlist the services of a women to select
"Think of the fat men that will wake up on Christmas morning to find in their stockings a delicate
emaciated baby pink necktie that will look like a consumptive shoestring when it reposes on
their bountiful expanse of white shirt bosom. Then on the other hand, 'Bones, the human skeleton,' will probably get delirium tremens when he is made the recipient of a spotted necktie big enough to make a shawl for grandmom. Of course nothing will do for the nice, dignified old gentleman who never wears anything but a little black bow, but a flowing sash of passionate hue. Willie, the gay sport, on the other hand, will get something that would look nice on grandpa, and so it will go on down the line.
"Oh, the Christmas necktie! What tragedies are written in thy name!"
The pessimist paused.
Then he added thoughtfully, "I would, though, rather have my wife buy me a necktie than pick
out my cigars!" - Philadelphia Inquirer.
Printed in the Fayette Falcon (Somerville, Tenn.) Dec 19, 1919.
1 Turnbull & Asser "The History of Neckwear"