Written by Ed Hodges
By nature, we are creatures of habit. There’s no easier time to observe this than our Christmas traditions.
Despite the endless depictions of ‘the perfect Christmas’ on greeting cards and heart-warming TV ads, I’m yet to find someone whose festive activities really line up with the stereotypical image of Christmas. That’s no bad thing. December is a season of traditions and those traditions are the things that make our lives unique. With pleasing repetition, traditions are the things that comfort and warm us with feelings of nostalgia. The simple habit of cooking the same meals, retrieving the same dusty box of decorations from the attic or shed, playing the same board games and perhaps hanging the same old stocking above the fireplace can be the things that really make a Christmas special!
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that traditions aren’t created to be changed. In fact, it’s often the weird, wonderful and unexpected things of life that become the traditions we treasure. The composer Gustav Mahler once said that: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, it’s the preservation of fire.” That sounds like an invitation to me.
My favourite Christmas tradition in our house actually changes every year. My wife and I shun the supposedly ‘no drop’ natural tree or the perfectly manicured artificial tree for something else entirely. Instead, we find and transform whatever we can into a tree. Over the last few years, we’ve adorned the corner of our living room with everything from cacti to clothes airers and decorated them with homemade ornaments. It’s fair to say that it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea and you might think we are strange for our Christmas tree traditions but we’re not alone in our passion for the peculiar! Around the world, a vast variety of weird Christmas traditions have taken hold: The widespread feasting on Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan, roller skating to early morning mass in Caracas or decorating your Christmas tree with cobwebs in Ukraine. Every one of these weird and wonderful Christmas traditions finds its roots in unique facets of culture and necessity.
This Christmas is another opportunity to try something new, make a new memory and perhaps even forge a beloved new tradition. So, what’s stopping you? Tis the season to create some new traditions.