What makes a tradition?
Traditions are well-loved, repeated, and passed-on from generation to generation; there is something undeniably human about them. From ancient religious rituals embedded in our world’s history, to traditions which are ingrained in our culture, such as Britain’s Fireworks night, Brazil’s wonderfully vibrant Rio Carnival, or Germany’s boozy Oktoberfest; there is a definite sense of the magical and sensational about them. Traditions can come in the form of festivals, songs, greetings, clothing and dancing – all kinds of fun! They bring people together, creating a sense of community and shared experience, and are commonly seen as a celebration.
The Tradition of Christmas
It makes sense to plop a celebration right at the heart of the darkest, coldest, and (let’s be honest) dreariest part of the year, right? Who wouldn’t want a bit of festive cheer in the dark of December! So, it was really quite sensible of our ancestors to create a winter festival, as the church did in the fourth century, inspired by the ancient pagan festival Saturnalia. The celebration of Christmas, which commemorates the birth of Christ, soon spread to countries across the globe, and has evolved and adapted (as I’m sure you can imagine) multiple times to become what we know as Christmas today.
Familiar Christmas Traditions
Although Christmas is celebrated across the country, there is no doubt that most families have their own special and unique traditions. So, without further hesitation, let’s ponder some Christmas traditions, and you can be the judge of whether they are wacky or wonderful!
The Christmas Break-Down
The Christmas Run-Up – the real question is, when should it begin? With shops creeping in their decorations earlier and earlier every year, the Christmas season starts to become a bit of a dizzying marathon.
But what can be relied on is the trusty advent calendar, which we all know begins on the 1st of December, and is most commonly associated with 25 delightful nuggets of sweet milk chocolate to be hastily unwrapped as each day brings us closer to the much anticipated big day.
Nowadays, you can get your hands on all different types of advent calendars. These can range from very fancy ones containing hand-chosen presents, to ones created by UK bingo sites which you can print off and play as a whole family complete with 25 hilarious and inevitable pre-crimbo scenarios to tick off as and when they occur before the big day.
Arguably what nippers find to be the most exciting element of Christmas, the tradition of Stockings, can be most famously traced back to the legend of St. Nicholas (the patron saint of Children) and the golden stocking. A historical act of kindness by the saint has been translated over history to become the mysterious delivery of presents by Father Christmas in the dead of night, deposited down the chimney in what can be otherwise described as a large knitted sock.
Every family will do their stockings differently. Some children will find them hanging by the chimney, others in the hallway, and others on the very end of their beds! Whichever way is chosen, there is no denying the exhilaration that comes with a magical delivery of gifts in the night. A favoured tradition that adults will fondly remember is the satsuma which can reliably be found nestled in the toe of their stocking, and one which many families continue.
In Germany they open their presents on Christmas Eve, would you believe! A great solution to the eagerness of little ones some might say. In the UK, people tend to open their presents on the 25th, although when this ritual takes place can vary… a lot. Before Breakfast? After Breakfast? In pyjamas, or at lunch time? One before and one after breakfast? I’m just going to leave these questions with you…
A Roasted Turkey, roasted potatoes, stuffing, brussel sprouts, mashed potato, roasted carrots and parsnips, bread sauce, Christmas pudding… all the elements of a truly traditional Christmas meal. But these days, with a rise in veganism and vegetarianism, traditional Christmas food seems to be going out of the window! With delicious nut roast, mushroom wellington, and cheese pie recipes flying about, one has the opportunity to create the feast that their heart desires, and cater to everyone.
The core of Christmas is family, whether it’s spent with your blood relatives, or those friends and loved ones who are considered family regardless. So, what’s more fun than playing a game or two? From old classics such as charades and pictionary, to less traditional games such as the Christmas Tombola game!
This lively game involves every family member (sat in a circle) providing two presents – one joke gift (i.e. a wrapped up empty pringles tube), and a real gift (i.e. a little book, or nice pen set), and are all ordered to place them in the center of the circle. They each take it in turns to roll a dice, and each number relates to a rule:
1 = take one present
2 = take two presents
3 = take one present and give it to someone else
4 = take one present from someone else
5 = take the present from the person to your left
6 = give one present to someone else
Christmas traditions can be whatever you make of them, there are absolutely no rules, the most important thing is to have fun, eat lots, be merry and enjoy yourselves! Merry Christmas!