By ESTHER HETHCOX
Whether it is cooking pies together for the Thanksgiving meal, hunting for the perfect Christmas tree or attending Christmas Eve service, holiday traditions are an integral part of everyone’s holiday season. Holiday traditions not only provide a festive atmosphere for people, but also build a community around them.
One special aspect of holiday traditions is that they have an international presence. Families all over the world participate in many different kinds of traditions, whether they are personal or national.
In Norway, the ringing of church bells welcomes in Christmas at exactly 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. In Great Britain, the day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day, where people give a Christmas Box filled with small gifts such as money or food to their delivery men or tradespeople who are regular callers. In the Czech Republic, Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 24, and Czech families fast all day in preparation for a meal full of holiday food. Once the family is done eating, they ring a bell to announce that Baby Jesus has left presents for everyone beneath the Christmas tree.
Since holiday traditions are such a large focus for some families, I interviewed friends and family to see what some of their favorite traditions are.
Thanksgiving traditions focus on everyone’s favorite pastime: delicious food. Many households in America provide the traditional family Thanksgiving meal, roasted turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and cornbread are only a few of the typical foods seen on the table on Thanksgiving Day.
Khayla McGowan, a history major at the University of Mary Washington, knows this all too well. Every Thanksgiving eve, McGowan and her family bake desserts throughout the day while watching the annual Thanksgiving Parade. This holiday tradition not only supplies the family with a bounty of delicious desserts, but also gives her family a chance to spend time together.
Christmas traditions add to the festivity that surrounds the holiday, giving everyone something to look forward to. One tradition in my family is the importance of stockings. Some people look forward to the presents, but all my siblings turn their eyes to their stockings. Inside lay many little trinkets carefully chosen by our mother, each one containing a personal significance to each recipient. This is perhaps one of the favorite moments of Christmas Day in my family.
Lizzie Mackercher, a communications major at George Mason University, still enjoys the simple comforts of childhood in her Christmas experience.
“I like to enjoy the simple pleasures of my youth by setting milk and cookies out on my kitchen table, for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve,” Mackercher said. “Every Christmas morning when I wake up, the cookies and milk are completely devoured.”
Holiday traditions, whether the theme is Thanksgiving or Christmas, hold a place in every individual’s life. The traditions that you, your family and close friends carry on might not seem very significant to others, but they are an important part to every person’s holiday season.