Christmas is the time of year that emotes positive feelings, renewal of hope and peace. It’s also a time steeped in traditions and customs handed down from generation to generation. Whether a long-running family activity or a new practice that slowly evolves into a ritual, these moments give us a sense of order and promise of safety.
The story of Christmas, or essentially the Christ child’s birth, brings the message of rebirth and the hope of peace and togetherness that shape our beliefs and, ultimately, the traditions we embrace. From hanging stockings, leaving cookies for Santa and Elf on the Shelf, we have many ways in which we can gather with family, friends and loved ones to celebrate the passing of one year and the hopefulness of the new year to come.
As a child, one of our long-held traditions was to open one package on Christmas Eve, following my mother’s favorite television show, “Lawrence Welk.” Needless-to-say, it was agony until the program ended! However, our one package always ended up being new pajamas. Disappointing but not unexpected. My daughters came up with a unique way to create everlasting memories with their children by gifting a unique ornament from places they have vacationed throughout the year. This way, they will have a complete set of ornaments to adorn their own tree when they become adults.
Gift-giving can also be in the form of delectable goodies and treats. I have a friend whose auntie was famous for her gingerbread cookies. The thin, crispy kind of gingerbread that has a delightful, satisfying crunch. She gave containers to friends, family, neighbors and whomever she met. It was her “sweet” holiday present that everyone eagerly awaited receiving each year.
In many countries, food plays a more central role in holiday traditions. For instance, in Italy, Christmas Eve is celebrated with the “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” which includes a multi-course giant seafood buffet. In Germany, an assortment of sausages and potato salad, while in Russia, everyone fasts until the evening in preparation for a fabulous feast, including Kutya, a traditional dish of honey, grains and poppy seeds. While in China, the traditional Christmas gift is an apple wrapped in cellophane because, in Mandarin, the word apple sounds like “Christmas Eve.”
Here in America, our individual states have more specific traditions: Laguna Niguel in California celebrates with a Surfing Santa competition while in Albuquerque, traditionally, Lumanaris (paper bags filled with sand and a candle) light the walkway to each home. Here in Florida, we celebrate with decked out boats brightly lighted with Christmas lights for our boat parades.
Caroling is popular in many countries throughout the world. Carols first appeared in England about 1420 when a country chaplain, John Awdlay, listed twenty-five “Carols of Christmas. Typically, we learn carols/Christmas songs from parents, through church attendance or in nursery school. And who can forget participating in those tedious school Christmas programs? But getting together to sing carols in the neighborhood with friends and ending with hot cocoa and cookies is a wonderful way to celebrate in a socially distanced fashion.
If you are looking for a new tradition to start with your family, there is no greater joy than seeing children who are less fortunate unwrap gifts meant especially for them. As a Guardian Ad Litem, I advocate for abused and neglected children, many of whom don’t have a family to celebrate with this holiday season. You can help your local Children’s Services to make this Christmas a little brighter for these children by contributing presents or funds that will be 100% utilized to meet these children’s needs. If you would like more information about being a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem or can contribute in any way, please call your local office in Santa Rosa or Escambia Counties.
Whether you are baking cookies, wrapping presents or planning holiday activities, Christmas is a special time for a family to come together. Even if you are gathering virtually this year, it’s an opportunity to reminiscence and rejoice for the new year ahead. We here at Chandler Interiors wish you a happy, healthy Christmas season and the best of New Year to come!