Christmas Traditions

December 19, 2012
Have you ever stopped to think about or wonder why you do a specific tradition during Christmastime -- or any time for that matter? It is a curiosity where our traditions really come from.

I remember having a discussion with someone once about how our lives are filled with traditions. They are what make us do the things that we do; he called them our ghosts. They are the little values and traditions that our parents taught us, but we don't exactly know why we think or do them. It could be something as simple as the way you make spaghetti, or something as deep as why you think children should be quiet while waiting in line at the grocery store. He gave me a good example:

A girl he knew that would cut off the top part of a ham before placing it in the oven to cook. When he asked her why she did it, she really had no idea why: "That's the way my mother always did it," she said, "and that's why I do it." He encouraged her to ask her mother why she always cut the top off of the ham before putting it in the oven: "That's what my mother always did, so that is what I do," said her mother. So he encouraged her to ask her grandmother why she cut the top off the ham before cooking it: "The ham never fit properly in the pan, so I would cut off the top before I put it in the oven so that the lid could cover it," said the grandmother.

Simple enough reasoning, isn't it? Some of my Christmas traditions I know have a reason behind them, and others I'm sure I would have to ask just why we do them. Perhaps my mother would know the answer, and maybe my grandmother would know the answer, and maybe nobody would know the answer. We do what we do simply because it is what we have always done.

My family doesn't start listening to Christmas music until the 19th of November. It is my grandfather's birthday, and it has turned into a tradition for remembering that day. It is simply so he is always on our minds at this time of year.

We also decorate our Christmas tree on the first Sunday of December -- in celebration of the beginning of Advent -- and it is a tradition that I have continued on. I didn't continue the tradition this year so that my little boy would have less time disturbing the ornaments on the tree. It has since proven to be a wise decision.

Another tradition that my family has is that my mom would give me and my sister an ornament each year. It could be one that she has made, or one that she has bought that she found particularly special. The little bear in the photo above is an ornament that she made for me many moons ago. I have since begun this tradition with my son. The little penguin in the middle photo above is one of the ornaments that I bought him this year. I also have the tradition of buying myself a beautiful ornament from Pier 1 each year. The ball ornaments in the top photo are some from years past.

The beauty of traditions is that they can be built upon, altered, or broken at any time. There is no need to be stuck, unless you want to be. What are some of your Christmas traditions?


  1. My husband and I as children would both leave a carrot for the reindeer and a glass of whisky and a mince pie for Father Christmas! Sometimes, he would leave a note for us in the morning to say 'thank you'! We do the same with our boys.
    I'm looking forward to our first Christmas Eve service in the local church here now that we are back in the UK.

    1. I bet Father Christmas enjoyed the whiskey! We would always give Santa some eggnog. One year, he used it on the cereal that we left him. We thought that was quite gross. I hope the Christmas Eve service was special for you!


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