Whilst some of us aren’t too fussed about the traditional elements of the festive period, for many others Christmas traditions are important. They help to strengthen bonds within our own family and our community. They give us a sense of belonging, can help us to express our religious and personal beliefs, connect us to our history, and, in all honesty, can just be great fun.
Although in recent years Christmas has been transformed into something much more commercial, it’s still important to understand its origins and Christian traditions, regardless of whether you are religious yourself. December 25th, for Christians, is the holy day that marks the birth of Jesus, the son of God. The telling of the Christmas story has been a special, and important, part of the festive period for hundreds of years. Traditionally, the Christmas story has been partly portrayed through the emblem of a crib, a reproduction of the manger that Jesus was born in. The tradition of crib making can, in fact, be traced back to at least 400 AD.
The tradition of Nativity plays, like the ones that are put on by schools and churches today, began to show the Christmas story as is told in the Bible. Reading, hearing, or watching the story of the birth of Jesus is important for Christians, as it brings them closer to their religion, and for non-Christians, it allows an understanding and insight into the beliefs of others.
Making Your Own Traditions
Traditions gradually change over time. It was Prince Albert who introduced to us the tradition of the Christmas tree, and Charles Dickens who first offered the eager hope and often disappointed expectation of a white Christmas. So realistically, there’s no reason why you can’t make up your own Christmas traditions. Lots of people aren’t too fussed about Christmas dinner and have a tradition of having curry instead. Other people think the whole gift-giving element of Christmas is a bit much, and just don’t bother with it. Traditions can be lovely, and make you feel part of something special, but if they don’t work for you personally, then that’s completely fine — just do things your own way, how you enjoy the best.
Lots of families have particular games they love to play on the big day, Monopoly being a classic, but many people like to make up their own entertainment, or hunt down games that are a little bit different. Christmas bingo has become super popular and is great fun for all the family. Simply download your bingo card online from specific bingo sites, and you will find that it is full of various festive scenarios, which you can check off as the festive period goes along — the first player to check them all off is the winner!
For many, tradition is a very important part of Christmas; religious or not, traditions make Christmas what it is, and brings us a sense of belonging and nostalgia. However, if you’re not a fan of existing Christmas traditions, then don’t be afraid to make up your own, and do things in whatever way makes you and your family and friends the happiest.
Christmas is usually a very social celebration, spent with friends and family (and in many cases lots of booze). For most families, the day will involve a big gift exchange and eating plenty of food. Christmas dinner is traditionally made up of turkey, stuffing, pigs-in-blankets, potatoes, vegetables, with perhaps a few extra trimmings. Other favourite traditional festive treats include mince pies, fruit cake and chocolates, but every family has their own traditional snacks and nibbles. Decorations, of course, also play a big part in the day, with a Christmas tree as the central decorative piece.
For many of us, these festive traditions bring us closer to our families; it’s a day that everyone can be involved in and is centred around generosity and kindness. For a lot of people, Christmas provides something to look forward to as the gloomier, colder months start to kick in, and its traditions offer both comfort and excitement.
The Tradition of Father Christmas
Father Christmas— also known as Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus— has long played part in Christmas traditions. Nowadays, he is thought of as the jolly man with a white beard and red coat, who bring toys to good girls and boys on the night of Christmas Eve. However, the story of Saint Nicholas reaches back to the third century, when he walked the earth and became the patron saint of children. Over the years, Father Christmas has been known to wear brown, green and even purple, before he has, more recently, come to be known for his letter-box red coat. Children are told that they must be good to be rewarded with a visit from Father Christmas, which is a great way of reminding them about good behaviour, and it, of course, makes Christmas a magical time of year for them.