Christmas Past

The fascinating stories behind your favorite Christmas traditions

The Key To New Christmas Traditions: Memories

merry christmas

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Christmas Past contributor, Randall Ritchey

We use the term “Christmas traditions” loosely, referring to the things we do each Christmas. But the true definition of a tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation. So while the Elf on the Shelf may be a custom, it hasn’t been around long enough yet to qualify as a tradition.

image of two Christmas elves
Not the actual Elf on the Shelf…but just as creepy

Where do Christmas traditions come from?

Christmas traditions come from many places. Putting up a Christmas tree and singing carols are passed down and carried on at the broader cultural level. Other regional traditions are similar, just on a smaller scale. Then, of course, there are the traditions unique to your own family—the recipes, activities, and the like that make Christmas uniquely your own.

luminarias are a Christmas tradition in the American southwest
Luminarias are a regional Christmas tradition of the American southwest. (Photo credit: camerafiend, via Wikipedia)

Many new ones are inspired by Christmas memories

“New tradition” may be a contradiction in terms, but many parents know the feeling of wanting to get the ball rolling on a recurring activity. And many of these things have their roots in fond Christmas memories.

Growing up, my brother and I shared bunk beds. Every Christmas Eve, we’d decorate it with lights and transform it into a “Christmas fort.” My sister, who normally slept in her own bedroom, would join us for the night. It’s a magical memory that always stayed with me. My own children are still too young for a Christmas fort,  but I do string up lights in their rooms for Christmas. They love them, and it’s something I’ll continue as they grow up.

Which of yours inspire you?

There’s something special in knowing that the simplest thing—a craft project, a new recipe, an offhand remark—can be the basis of a fond memory that you’re eager to repeat. What memories from your Christmas past are behind your family’s Christmas today?

Share one of yours on an episode of Christmas Past!

Episodes of Christmas Past include Christmas memories submitted by listeners. It’s never too early in the year to send one to Brian for an upcoming episode. Just record a short message into your phone about your favorite memories, traditions, or anecdotes, and send it to christmaspastpodcast [AT] gmail.

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