Opinion: Holiday traditions, whether religious, cultural, family oriented, are important to the holiday season


Photo by Isabella Bass / Hilltop Views

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.

Holidays are some of the best times to spend with family and create  amazing memories. Something that makes holidays special is the different traditions people celebrate. Some traditions are religious or cultural, while some are specific to one’s particular family. My family has always had several traditions that we’ve celebrated over the years, and some of my favorite childhood memories are of celebrating those traditions with everyone. 

Some typical religious traditions include celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah and Advent. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus, and Advent is a celebration predominantly for Catholics that precedes Christmas. 

Advent is the beginning of the spiritual year for churches, celebrating the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Each week has a different spiritual theme, and a common practice includes lighting the Advent candle to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus. Advent traditions vary depending on the country, with Austria being where many Christian hymns originated. Another example is in China, where its Christian citizens celebrate Advent by decorating their homes with lanterns. 

Hanukkah originated in the Jewish religion, and is celebrated over the course of eight days beginning usually in December on Kislev 25. Hanukkah symbolizes the rededication of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, and is celebrated by lighting candles on the menorah each day of the celebration. 

While religious celebrations are very special and enjoyable, traditions associated with family rather than religion or culture can be just as meaningful and significant. On Christmas Eve, my parents and I usually go out for a fancy dinner. This is something that we’ve done since I was a child, and it’s always been something I look forward to. 

We  typically make cinnamon rolls for breakfast on Christmas morning, which was always a rare treat I looked forward to. We would eat these while opening gifts, watching movies and calling family to exchange holiday well-wishes. 

My family has always loved the film, “A Christmas Story,” and we used to watch the 24-hour marathon on TBS every year. After we no longer had cable, we played our DVD version of the movie over and over during our Christmas Day celebration. 

These are some of the traditions my family and I celebrate that are unique to us, which I feel are just as meaningful as the typical Christmas traditions. I wanted to highlight these traditions, as they shaped my childhood holiday experience. 

Whether your traditions are based on religion, culture or specific family activities, they are a really important part of holiday celebrations. Celebrating with loved ones and making your own memories is just as important and valuable as celebrating a specific religion or culture, and memories made from traditions last a lifetime.