Christmas traditions are events and rituals we revisit year after year with our family and friends. Tradition is a massive part of what makes Christmas so special! Everyone loves the familiarity and comfort of old traditions we have been doing for years! Often, Christmas traditions are shared by a whole community and have deep historical significance.
For example, we may send a santa letter to our children or decorate our houses with the traditional Christmas colours red, gold, and green because the colours have roots in Chrisitan iconography. Red symbolises the blood of Christ, gold was a gift from the Three Kings, and the green represents eternal life. Christmas was originally an exclusively religious holiday. Many of the traditions we still celebrate today have religious significance!
Today, we will be looking at the top 10 traditional things to do this Christmas. Many of these traditions are loved by people all over the world. These traditions are great ways to celebrate the festive season and enjoy quality time with your family.
Read on to find out the best traditional things to do this Christmas.
Carol singing is the original Christmas tradition! At Christmas time, groups of people travel door-to-door throughout their community singing carols to their neighbours. It is also popular to sing carols in groups in the town square or on the high street.
The first group of carol singers reportedly dates back to 1880 in Cromwell, England. However, people have been singing songs about the nativity of Jesus Christ since the 4th Century! Carol singing is not as popular as it once was. But you can still enjoy this wholesome, family friendly Christmas tradition. You may even revive the tradition in your local area!
Traditionally, carolling happens after you have finished Christmas dinner and before you settle in for the night. Throw on your cosy coat and your woolly beanie, head out into the cold, and sing your favourite Christmas songs. If you don’t want to brave the winter weather, you can just sing around the dinner table! Whichever way you choose to carol, it is guaranteed to be a joyous tradition to incorporate into your Christmas festivities.
Decorate a Christmas Tree
Sure, most of us already decorate a Christmas tree every year. But it wouldn’t be a definitive list of traditional things to do at Christmas without an honourable mention of Christmas tree decoration!
Christmas tree decoration has been a tradition for generations. It started in early modern Germany when Martin Luther decorated an evergreen tree with candles. Before Martin Luther added Christian associations to the tradition, pagans decorate their homes with evergreen trees during the winter solstice to remind them of the coming spring.
Now, the beautifully decorated Christmas tree is an enduring symbol of Christmas. It’s a family tradition to gather around the tree and decorate it with tinsel, baubles, and sparkling lights. It wouldn’t be a proper Christmas without a glistening tree!
Christmas stockings hanging from the mantelpiece is a quintessential Christmas tradition. Traditionally, Christmas stockings are hung by children in the hopes Santa will fill them with presents on Christmas morning. In many households, stockings remain a Christmas tradition even after the kids are all grown up!
Christmas stockings are a beautiful Christmas decoration to enjoy. There really is nothing more festive than the family gathered in a cosy living room, with stockings above the fireplace, and a warm fire burning. Christmas stockings are a fun and aesthetically pleasing Christmas tradition to continue for years to come!
There are loads of other ways to make Christmas Eve extra special too!
Leave Santa Milk and Cookies
Leaving Santa milk and cookies is definitely a more child friendly Christmas tradition! Whether you have children yourself or have a troupe of grandchildren, all kids love the excitement of leaving out milk and cookies! The real joy comes when the kids wake up in the morning and see an empty glass of milk and cookie crumbs. They can’t believe their eyes! The milk and cookies tradition is so special because it shows children that Santa really has delivered their presents firsthand. You can even leave a carrot or two for Rudolph and his friends.
The milk and cookies tradition originates from the Great Depression in the 1930s. Parents wanted to teach their children to learn the virtue of selflessness. By giving cookies and milk – at a time of economic hardship – children learnt the importance of gratitude and altruism.
Now, this practice is an invaluable Christmas tradition celebrated by people all over the world. There are even different interpretations of the tradition. In Ireland, it is customary to leave Santa a small glass of Guinness, whereas in Denmark Santa is given a bowl of rice pudding.
Kiss Under the Mistletoe
Kissing under the mistletoe is the most romantic Christmas tradition! The mistletoe is a symbol of fertility, love, and good luck. In ancient Greece and Rome, lovers would kiss under the mistletoe during the Saturnalia festival in the hopes to be gifted with fertility. Eventually, the custom started to be done in marriage ceremonies. It even evolved as a way to finalise a ceasefire during Roman times (although they skipped the kissing part!).
The tradition started to become associated with Christmas in the early 1700s. In winter, English servants would pluck a berry from the mistletoe. This was the start of mistletoe becoming deeply connected with Christmas and it just kept developing! Now, partners kiss under the mistletoe and do other romantic gestures around Christmas time. It’s the ultimate romantic gesture!
Make a Nativity Scene
The nativity scene is a special exhibition that is displayed at Christmas time. The nativity scene depicts the birth of Jesus Christ in 3D form. The nativity scene shows baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds, and villagers at the manger in Bethlehem. For Christians, the nativity scene evokes the miracle of Jesus’ conception and the gift of everlasting life. The nativity scene represents the religious significance of Christmas.
It is a Christmas tradition to make a nativity scene and display it at Christmas. You can buy a premade nativity scene set to make at home or you can build it from scratch! Making a nativity scene is a family friendly activity. The kids will love the creativity involved in this Christmas tradition. If you don’t want to make your own nativity scene, there’s usually a beautiful display in your local area. While you’re there, you can also visit all the Christmas lights and decorations in the town centre!
Elf on the Shelf
Elf on the Shelf is a 2004 children’s book by Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell. In the book, Santa’s “scout elves” hide in people’s homes to watch what everyone gets up to. Once the family has fallen asleep, the elves will fly back to the North Pole to tell Santa all their secrets. In the morning, the elf flies back to the home and hides in a different place. The elves play a game of hide and seek with the family each day. After the book gained widespread popularity, parents were inspired to play the same game with their children!
During the festive season, parents will sneakily move the elf on the shelf to different locations throughout their house. Their children wake up excited to find out where the elf is and what mischief he has found himself in. Elf on the shelf is a fantastic tradition that can be done in the lead up to Christmas. It keeps the kids entertained and builds excitement for the big day!
Write a Letter to Santa
Each year, people all over the world write letters to Santa. In their letters to Santa they tell him everything they have achieved this year, all the nice things they have done for others, and, most importantly, what they would like for Christmas. Their letters are decorated with extravagant colours, pictures, and decorations. Children hope that their letters will convince Santa to give them the most magical presents! Writing to Santa is a great Christmas tradition the whole family can enjoy. It’s such a fun tradition! Just make sure to send it off in time, otherwise, Santa may miss you off his shopping list
Nothing builds anticipation for Christmas day quite like an advent calendar! The advent calendar starts on the 1st of December and continues until the 24th. You will enjoy a special treat – a chocolate or a tiny present is most common – each day in the lead up to Christmas. The advent calendar is a Christmas tradition that both kids and adults can enjoy. Who would say no to a chocolate each morning?
Pantomime is a British Christmas tradition. The pantomime is a campy musical comedy for the whole family. The pantomime tradition can be traced back to the Roman midwinter celebration of the Saturnalia (remember that festival from the mistletoe!?) Popular pantomimes performed at Christmas are based on fairytales. Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Cinderella are all loved by people during the festive season. The pantomime is a fantastic Christmas tradition to enjoy during a cold winter’s evening.