If you celebrate the festive season, then chances are there are some Christmas traditions that you keep. These are things that add to the meaning & spirit of Christmas for you – that have perhaps been inherited from your family, or special ones you’ve picked up along the way. And as Paul & I discussed in a recent podcast, they can make the difference between enjoying this season or feeling left out in the cold.
In my attempt to be a little bit less Bah Humbug I’ve been reflecting on the things I love or think embody Christmas so that I can take more responsibility for enjoying this time of year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then the idea of traditions also applies to other special holidays that you might celebrate throughout the year.
What are Christmas Traditions?
These are going to vary widely depending on local, national, cultural & familial influences, as well as your beliefs, personal experiences and preferences.
Some of my best Christmas memories include a large family gathering with puns flying thick & fast across the Christmas table that is covered with seasonal specialities like Grannie’s cold chicken curry and enough blancmange to allow the men to fight over 2nd or even 3rd helpings, trying to play Christmas carols on my otherwise neglected keyboard so that my sister & I can sing (arguably badly) along, trying to pronounce “S Roždestvom Khristovym!” to my Russian grandparents, as well as Santa stockings of presents that promised to hold little treats, surprises & wonders that I loved individually unwrapping.
As I’ve gotten older (and spent more of my Christmases in the snowy northern hemisphere rather than the summery heat of my childhood home), I’ve added a love of steaming mulled wine to the list, along with the smell of traditional wood-burning fires/stoves, special Christmas decorations Mum collected for me and calls to all of my family members & friends.
To explore some of the Christmas traditions that you hold dear, think about:
- Any songs or music that you enjoy at this time of year,
- Foods (or drinks) that you mainly only eat over the festive season,
- Events & experiences that you share with some of your favourite people,
- Decorations, symbols or holiday habits that add to the spirit,
- Absent friends & family that we miss & reminisce about,
- Gratitude for love and gifts, given & received,
- As well as jokes and laughter shared, & weather enjoyed or moaned about!
The Magic of Christmas Traditions
Whilst it can sometimes be a tense, sad or painful time of year, it can also be a joyous and happy time too – and traditions can help us to be present and enjoy the season even if the circumstances have changed that mean we can’t continue the traditions in exactly the same ways.
We can adapt and update traditions that help us celebrate – so my Grannie’s cold chicken curry I now make with vegetarian Quorn, I love going (warmly-wrapped) to the Abbey for carols during the Watchnight service and we swap celebratory puns by Skype video calls with my family these days.
So, to embrace a bit more of the Christmas spirit to shrug off the Scrooge in you or reconnect with why the festive season is truly meaningful to you, breathe new life into some of your Christmas traditions.
Find gratitude for things that you can, and try to let go of what you can’t.
And please share! I’d love to hear about what some of your favourite traditions for the festive season are – new or old.
Wishing you all a Merry Christmas & happy and safe holiday season!