Why are Della and Jim compared to the Magi who evolved the practice of presenting gifts on Christmas?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were probably at least two reasons for O. Henry to title his story "The Gift of the Magi." According to the origiinal story, the three wise men brought precious gifts, including silver and gold, to present to the Christ child in the manger. O. Henry is suggesting that any gifts which are given out of love are equally precious. Love itself is the most precious gift of all. Secondly, the gifts that Della and Jim present to each other were both purchased with the sacrifice of the things that were the most precious to each of them. Della gave up her long, beautiful hair, and Jim gave up his expensive watch. O. Henry's story suggests that it is the feeling behind the gift that makes it precious, and not the gift itself. The fact that his two characters are married and will probably be having a child of their own also ties in with the the original story of the Magi, because the three wise men were wise enough to understand that the birth of any child is a miracle and a blessing to the parents.