Christmas traditions that should be eliminated
By Elliot Chan, Contributor
The word “tradition” brings a shiver down my spine. How can intelligent people be subjected to these mindless habits, and worse, why must they pass them on from generation to generation? It’s time for us to kill some traditions and move on, before they do the same to us.
As the holiday season approaches, I brace myself for all the shameful acts we’ll do just for the sake of tradition. Of course, I don’t have to look far. All I have to do is open my curtains and there they are: my neighbours’ Christmas lights hung from their rafters, rooflines, and porch railings to prove to the community that an upper middle class family resides within. Every block has an overzealous decorator, and while most houses are quietly conserving precious energy, these homeowners decide to add to the light pollution. Even with the new LED lights, the festive tradition is still a complete waste of energy. According to the Department of Energy, LED Christmas lights in an urban city still consume over 31,000 kilowatts (10 times less than incandescent) during the course of the holiday season. Considering that on a regular day a household only uses 16-20 kwh, we must prioritize our First World privileges. The only people worse than those who put up Christmas lights early are those who are too lazy to take them down. We’ll speak again in February.
I’m not a tree hugger, but seeing a young, healthy evergreen amputated from the earth and set to slowly rot in a living room doesn’t seem right. “But fake, plastic Christmas trees don’t have the fresh smell,” you say. I really wish that was a legitimate argument, but it isn’t. It can’t be, not in this day and age when we slap someone over the head for not recycling. Stop being so stubborn and at least make an effort. That’s not to say artificial trees are any better. Producing plastic creates by-products that are extremely harmful to the environment. These inauthentic trees leave a far more damaging carbon footprint than real ones. So dismiss the Christmas tree this year and take a sniff: “Ah… A fresh tradition.”
The generous act of giving is perhaps one of humanity’s most positive traits—surely that can’t be a bad tradition. It isn’t, but the fanatic desperation to find a gift is. There’s no such thing as a perfect gift. Eventually it’ll become garbage—broken down or shoved in the garage alongside the plastic tree. There are meaningful gifts, and then there are thoughtless gifts. Most of us can recognize one from the other, there’s no hiding it. The stress to find something meaningful turns generosity into unpleasant despair. There’s no reason for the shopping mall to become a war zone. Change this tradition. I’m tired of receiving knick-knacks and coupons for 10 per cent off after a $50 purchase. Share an experience with your loved ones. Take them out to dinner, go on a trip, and create a memory that doesn’t revolve around a stuffed animal or a box of chocolates.
It’s not my intention to ruin Christmas or the holiday season, but we must acknowledge that as the world changes, so must our traditions. If we’re going to preach about a better environment, a better community, and a better life, perhaps we should replace our white Christmas with a healthy green one.
Let’s keep Christmas!
By Lauren Paulsen, Contributor
It’s that time of year again! Lights are being strung up, trees are being decorated, and Santa’s getting ready to deliver presents to good little boys and girls. I love Christmas traditions. They fill my heart with nostalgia and warmth. As soon as those first lights are hung up in the neighbourhood, my Christmas spirit is awoken.
Did you know that covering the Christmas tree with lights dates back to the 18th century in Germany? They used candles back then—a fire hazard, for sure—and it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that electric Christmas lights were introduced, making a far safer alternative. Over time, the lights started to decorate other places, including the outside of buildings, creating a festive atmosphere along streets. It’s not necessary to go out and buy tons of lights to decorate your yard; just a few simple strings will do. If you’re looking out for the environment, LED lights can be used to consume less energy. Buying the lights helps the economy, and using the energy efficient lights helps Mother Earth.
The Christmas tree is a wonderful tradition. The hanging of decorations is a great thing to do with the family and a perfect way to get someone in the Christmas spirit. Even those who cannot sport a real tree in their home can still enjoy this tradition with a faux version. It’s a wonderful alternative for those who have allergies to fir trees, and using the same tree year after year saves a lot of money. You can buy the ornaments for the tree, or make some yourself. My family’s tree is filled with ornaments my brother and I made as children—beaded wreaths, candy canes, little angels, and more—plus many cute ornaments we’ve received as gifts over the years, such as milestone anniversaries, or “Baby’s First Christmas.” Wonderful moments you won’t ever forget because you have treasures hanging from the tree to remind you.
And let’s not forget the presents we put under the tree. Ah, presents. Who doesn’t love getting a gift? The cute wrapping paper that hides what’s underneath, creating a mystery. At the cost of sounding cheesy, I believe that the reason for presents is not to receive, but to give. That’s the whole point of Christmas, isn’t it? It symbolizes the way Jesus lived his life: giving to others. What better way to celebrate his birthday? Even for those who aren’t Christians, the thought behind it is still wonderful. And doesn’t it make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, seeing someone’s eyes light up with delight as you hand them a gift? Finding the perfect gift doesn’t matter—it’s the feelings behind it that count.
We’ve kept these wonderful traditions alive for centuries because we enjoy them, and they will stay for years to come because of the same reason. Think about it: traditions are traditions for a reason. These Christmas traditions are definitely here to stay for a long time—otherwise, we wouldn’t have kept them around for so long. Merry Christmas, everyone!