By early November, it is impossible not to know that Christmas is coming.
Coloured lights, decorations and Christmas trees seem to spring up everywhere, and we are all a little more stressed by the preparations and demands on already limited time. The commercialism can be overwhelming at times, but the fact of the matter is that we each make of Christmas what we wish.
The traditions surrounding the holidays are as numerous as the people who celebrate it. Through the years, the holiday has been adapted to local customs, culture, and history and has produced an amazing variety of Christmas traditions around the world. Some, such as the giving of gifts or the use of a star, arose directly or indirectly out of the biblical nativity stories. Some, like the legends of Saint Nicholas, have their origins in church history that have been embellished through story and grown to become legendary. Others, such as the use of evergreens and the yule log, have pagan origins but have been transformed into distinctively Christian traditions. Each of our families has adopted various traditions that we celebrate over the holidays.
It is a wonderful time of year. We have the great fortune of living in a land where we are blessed with peace and prosperity. For me, it is a time to spend with family, friends and loved ones catching up on the year gone by; walks in the snow; good food; and lots of laughter and good cheer. It really means a slower pace of life for the week to enjoy the things that are important.
If there is such a thing as “new” traditions, at our house it has to be spending a day decorating gingerbread boys and girls. Our grandson took a liking to these cookies when he was very small and ever since, baking and decorating these treats is an annual event. Other dishes are made from favourite recipes and even though they may not be considered Christmas fare, they are a must for our Christmas table.
While a great deal of volunteer work supporting various causes continues on Boxing Day, for many it is a day to relax and enjoy family. While it’s not recognized south of the border probably because it originated in England, for Canadians Boxing Day is just considered part of the holidays. In nineteenth century England as an expression of gratitude, members of the merchant class gave “boxes” of food and fruit, clothing or money to trades people and servants. Also a tradition at the time was the opening of alms “boxes” placed in churches over the Christmas season. The contents of these boxes were distributed amongst the poor the day after Christmas, hence the name Boxing Day. Whatever the beginnings, it is now thought of as part of the Christmas holidays. A day for board games, turkey leftovers and no cooking at our house!
Just as the first Christmas heralded a new beginning, every Christmas season offers each of us a chance to reflect on the year past, and new resolve for the year ahead. It’s been a year filled with special events, renewal of friendships and a realization of the quality of life we in Saskatchewan enjoy.
From our home to yours, best wishes for a happy, healthy holiday filled with family and friends! Merry Christmas!
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