White Elephants

My siblings came over yester-eve for a Christmas party. We grilled burgers and then had a white elephant gift exchange. My sister in law Karolyn relayed to us her understanding of the origin of name "white elephant". Ever thought about it? Maybe some of you already know but I googled it this morning and found Karolyn's version to be right on the money. The story goes:

In Thailand, the rare albino elephant was sacred, and each new one born belonged to the king. Moreover, it was forbidden to kill such an elephant or to use it for work. Therefore, the story goes, whenever the king wished to punish
an obnoxious courtier, he'd make him a present of one of these pale pachyderms.
It was a gift to be dreaded, however. Recipients could neither use the elephant
nor get rid of it -- and inevitably went broke trying to keep it fed. Nowadays,
the expression white elephant is used to apply more generally to any burdensome

And now you know!

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Thanks for the story, that's good to know. That reminds me of a party that Trevor and I went to that had a white elephant gift exchange. Trevor brought a urine sample cup dispenser! HA! He got it from a bazaar/career day at Medical school. That gift was the highlight of the evening.