December Sunset #1

The clouds drenched in the glow of dusk, smoldered as the sun plummeted westward, descending past the horizon.  As the sky began to cool and dim, a moment of tranquility endured – quiet, still, ephemeral, before the day gave in wholly to the night.  An instance where change is immutable – the world standing still.

Bridge to Past

We are, of course, never standing still.  Life is dynamic.  Change is constant.  And now more than ever in our harried and hurried lives, tradition grounds us, if only for a short time.  Tradition is our bridge to the past.  A tether to our familial and cultural customs that transcends all time and space.  We tend to honor traditions more often during the Holidays as we look to maintain customs and solidify memories.

Christmas Lights

Traditions are celebrated the world over.  Some thousands of years old.  Although we may celebrate Christmas differently, we all look to honor our traditions, a reverence of the past.

Croatian Wreath

In Croatia, it’s traditional to have an Advent wreath laden with four candles.  The wreath symbolizes endlessness while the candles stand for hope, peace, joy and love.  On December 5th, St. Nicholas’s Eve, children leave their shoes by the window in hopes that St. Nicholas will leave candy or small gifts.  On Christmas Eve, dried cod (Bakalar) is traditionally served.

Yule Lads

In Iceland, Christmas is known as Yule or Jol – from the ancient winter solstice celebrations.  An important custom is the arrival of the Yuletide Lads (Jólasveinarni).  They are magical imps from the mountains who visit each day from December 12th – December 24th.  They often leave gifts and candy in children’s shoes left in the window.

Ethiopian Christmas

Ethiopia celebrates Christmas or “Ganna” on January 7th as they still use the Julian calendar.  Many people fast on Christmas Eve and dress in all white on Christmas Day in a traditional garment called a “shamma”.  A traditional Christmas dinner consists of “wat” which is a spicy stew served with flat bread, also known as “plate of injera”.

Greek Christmas Bowl

In Greece, children like to carol (kalanda) in the streets.  Although Christmas trees are popular in Greece, an older more traditional decoration is a shallow, wooden bowl with a small amount of water and wooded cross with a sprig of basil wrapped around it.  It’s customary for the matron of the family to dip the basil wrapped cross in the bowl and sprinkle water in every room of the house.  It is believed to keep bad spirits away.

Irish Ornament

No matter how or what we celebrate, we are linked by upholding customs and respecting traditions – a timeless practice.

“Christmas is a day of meaning and traditions, a special day spent in the warm circle of family and friends.”

-Margaret Thatcher

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney