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  • White elephant (animal)

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    A royal white elephant A white elephant in Naypyidaw, Myanmar A white elephant (also albino elephant) is a rare kind of elephant, but not a distinct species. Although often depicted as snow white, their skin is normally a soft reddish-brown, turning a light pink when wet. They have fair eyelashes and toenails. The traditional "white elephant" is commonly misunderstood as being albino, but the Thai term chang samkhan, actually translates as 'auspicious elephant', being "white" in terms of an aspect of purity. White elephants are only nominally white. Of those currently kept by the Burmese rulers—General Than Shwe regards himself as the heir of the Burmese kings—one is grey and the other three are pinkish, but all are officially white. The king of Thailand also keeps a number of white elephants, eleven of which are still alive. Former U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew once presented a white elephant to King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.

  • Gift

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    Gifts under a Christmas tree Red gift box gift packing Modern engagement gifts basket in Bangladesh. A gift or a present is an item given to someone without the expectation of payment or anything in return. An item is not a gift if that item is already owned by the one to whom it is given. Although gift-giving might involve an expectation of reciprocity, a gift is meant to be free. In many countries, the act of mutually exchanging money, goods, etc. may sustain social relations and contribute to social cohesion. Economists have elaborated the economics of gift-giving into the notion of a gift economy. By extension the term gift can refer to any item or act of service that makes the other happier or less sad, especially as a favor, including forgiveness and kindness. Gifts are also first and foremost presented on occasions such as birthdays and holidays.

  • White elephant gift exchange

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    A man "steals" a gift in a white elephant gift exchange, while its previous owner is reluctant to relinquish it. A white elephant gift exchange, Yankee swap or Dirty Santa is a party game where amusing, impractical gifts are exchanged during festivities. Usually, the goal of a white elephant gift exchange is to entertain party-goers rather than to gain a genuinely valuable or highly sought-after item. The term white elephant refers to an extravagant, but impractical, gift that cannot be easily disposed of. The phrase is said to come from the historic practice of the King of Siam (now Thailand) giving rare albino elephants to courtiers who had displeased him, so that they might be ruined by the animals' upkeep costs. While the first use of this term remains a matter of contention among historians, one theory suggests that Ezra Cornell brought the term into the popular lexicon through his frequent social gatherings as early as 1828.

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