Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remember When . . . Traditions Were Made?

Over these last few years, I've researched Christmas in Victorian times, in Colonial times, in the 20s. I've discovered how the Puritans banned it in New England, and how if you had a party in Maryland in the 1780s, the newspaper would publish when it was going to be, and strangers might just show up at your door. I've tracked some of the traditions through the ages, like hiding a pickle in your tree and wassailing. I've posted about the 12 Days of Christmas and how they actually begin on Christmas Day and end on the Epiphany (January 6).

All so much fun to learn about! Writing historicals has really opened my eyes to how our celebrations and traditions evolve through the ages, and how some pieces stay the same. Interestingly, we rarely know why we cling to some of the things that have stuck around for centuries, like mistletoe and yule logs.

And yet here I sit this morning going, What can I write about today? LOL. It feels like I've covered it all since I started blogging all those years ago. I'm sure I haven't. But I apparently haven't had enough coffee to make me think otherwise. So I thought I'd take a different course today.

One thing I love about all these celebrations I've learned is the thought that the traditions can bring the generations--the centuries, even--together. And sometimes I pause and wonder what our children will remember most. What are our Christmas traditions today, as a culture? Santa Claus? Christmas Eve candlelight services? Trimming the tree? Baking cookies?

Our tree and stockings
Christmas has been a busy season for a lot of years, and though we today might think we're busier than any generation before (and while we might be right), some of my favorite traditions are the ones that are pretty simple.

Singing Christmas songs.

Decorating the tree with my kids.

Brunch on Christmas morning with my family.

I love watching the delight on my kids' faces as we bake or wrap or trim...and I love learning that back in Colonial days, Christmas really wasn't for the kids like it is now. They received the same token gifts that parents would also give to servants--sweets, fruit, maybe a book or small toy. They weren't invited to the parties. They were kept quiet in their rooms during much of the celebrating. Gotta say, I like having them involved. =)

What are some of your favorite traditions in your family? What are some that you've heard about that baffled or delighted you? Anything new you're trying this year?


  1. I married into a family that loves its traditions to the point where they are known to quote, "We did it once, so now it's a tradition!" A slightly odd one is that after the stockings are emptied, one simply MUST put the stocking on one's head like a hat (something that can probably be blamed on my husband from when he was 4), and wear it through the opening of all the gifts, if not through the annual viewing of Irving Berlin's White Christmas.

    1. Well that's a fun one. =) We have a stockings-last rule--born of necessity after accessories for main gifts were placed in stockings and therefore film, say, opened before a camera, LOL.