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Christmas Traditions

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about interesting things.


What Is a Tradition?

A tradition is defined as a custom or belief that has been handed down from generation to generation. A child does what her mother does. The mother does what her mother did. When the child has children of her own, they will do what their mother does.

A tradition can be a behavior or something that is done on a regular basis. The word "tradition" comes from the Latin tradere literally meaning to transmit something, to hand something over, or to give something for safekeeping.

Christmas Traditions

There are many Christmas traditions among family, cultures, countries, and communities. What is popular in one family might not be popular with every family in the community. However, there are some common traditions that everyone embraces. Even so, there might be variations within the tradition.

For example, many people have Christmas trees in their houses. That is a tradition, but they are not all decorated the same way. The timing of putting it up and taking it down might also differ.


Christmas Trees

Some people wouldn't consider putting up an artificial Christmas tree. They prefer a live tree, and then there are different kinds of live Christmas trees.

The Christmas tree usually is put in a central location in the house. Some people choose to have more than one tree in their houses.

The tree is decorated with ornaments, tinsel, garland, and lights, with an angel or a star symbolizing the Star of Bethlehem at the top.

Presents the family will exchange are wrapped and placed under the tree.


Christmas Gifts

Gifts, also called presents, are wrapped in fancy paper or in gift bags and usually opened on Christmas morning. Some families have a tradition of opening one or more gifts on Christmas Eve and the rest of them the following morning.

Children are allowed to play with any toys and electronics as soon as they open their gifts. At one time in rural communities, gifts were opened and displayed under the tree until the tree was taken down after New Year's Day.

The purpose for that was because of another tradition. There was a lot of visitors during the holidays, and people could see what everyone in the household got for Christmas. Can you imagine a video game, a bike, or a special toy being idle under the tree for over a week?



Every family is different when it comes to decorations. Candles are placed in each window. A wreath might be on the front door. Christmas cards are hung or displayed for decoration.

Of course, the Christmas tree is the central piece of the decoration. Even the tree is decorated in various ways in homes.


Christmas Dinner

A traditional Christmas dinner usually includes either roasted turkey with stuffing, ham, or roast beef. Potatoes, squash, roasted vegetables and cranberry sauce are side dishes.

A variety of desserts are served. They include chocolate cake, coconut cake, potato pie, coconut pie and fruitcake.

Drinks include apple cider or eggnog sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg.


Christmas Songs

There are hundreds of Christmas songs. The most popular one over the years is an Irving Berlin song White Christmas that was written in 1940. Since that time, close to a hundred artists have recorded the song. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time. Estimated sales are in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.

There are many other Christmas songs that are played from Thanksgiving through the Christmas holiday. Some of the popular songs include Jingle Bells, Silver Bells, Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer and All I Want For Christmas Is You.

Religious songs include Silent Night, O Holy Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem, and Joy to the World.


Christmas Movies

There are many Christmas movies old and new. The old movies return almost every year and movie lovers watch and enjoy them as if they are seeing them for the very first time.

The Hallmark Channel begins showing romantic Christmas movies around Thanksgiving, and they continue throughout the holidays.

Some popular classics include How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, It's a Wonderful Life and many others.


Religious Services

In some churches, there is a special service on the Sunday before Christmas and Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. A Nativity play is another tradition performed in some churches.

In recent years when Christmas Day is on a Sunday, some churches close to give parishioners a chance to be home with their families on Christmas morning.


Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are not delivered by the mail carrier as they used to be. That's because of the price of postage and the social media. A person can save a lot of money on the price of the card and postage by simply finding one online and sending the same card to an entire group of people with one click of the mouse. Surely, it is not the same as receiving a greeting card in the mail.

At one time people used to display their many cards on the wall or on their coffee table to be read over and over during the holidays. Times have really changed in recent years.

One woman said she used to receive up to 40 to 50 cards for Christmas. Now she receives fewer than five cards.


For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. What Christmas decoration is usually put on the front door?
    • tree
    • candle
    • greeting cards
    • wreath
  2. What is the center piece of Christmas decorations?
    • wreath
    • candle
    • Christmas tree
    • mistletoe
  3. What is often seen in the windows during the Christmas holidays?
    • candles
    • wreath
    • Christmas tree
    • Christmas cards
  4. Which is a Christmas food?
    • fruitcake
    • candy cones
    • M&Ms
    • boiled eggs
  5. Which is the most sold Christmas song?
    • "Blue Christmas"
    • "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeeer"
    • "White Christmas"
    • "Silver Bells"

Answer Key

  1. wreath
  2. Christmas tree
  3. candles
  4. fruitcake
  5. "White Christmas"

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