It’s our favourite time of year! Christmas inspires nostalgia and perks up traditions like no other time. Our Tootsie hearts are all a flutter at the sight of twinkly lights and the smell of mulled wine. Our feelings for the season are unwavering… Christmas, we adore you!
We are particularly excited about Paddington 2 (the M&S Christmas ad has done a marvellous job of whetting our appetites ahead of the film) and Love Actually accompanied by live orchestra! Not to mention the usual favourites: Ice skating at Somerset House or The Natural History Museum, Leading the carols at Ascot Racecourse, and singing by the prettiest tree in town at The Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
We love how it’s more evident than ever at this time of year that rituals are carried from generation to generation. This conversation got us chatting about family Christmas traditions, where they originate, and what new traditions we have unknowingly introduced in more recent years. Do you have the answers to these questions about your own Christmases?
We also found ourselves reflecting on the year passed, wondering if the words ‘tradition’ and ‘traditionally’ have lost some of their positive connotations in the age we live in? Christmas aside, traditional behaviours and routines are frequently questioned and instinctively remodelled. We are huge believers in mixing the best of the old with the best of the new. Learning from the past to optimise the present. Is it more common to defy ‘traditional’ expectation than comply these days? Or is it simply easier to question and be heard? People have always questioned the norm, however social media has played a huge role in facilitating people speaking out: exercising their voice with confidence and not only that, often garnering wide support for their beliefs. Traditionally, it would have been much harder to do so in such a far reaching way. This year has certainly felt the power of the hashtag, and seen the rise of Instagram stories.
Turning our thoughts back to Christmas it seems many of our personal family traditions remain absolutely in tact. May Christmas always be a time to slow down, appreciate and reflect, acknowledging positive world developments while allowing the concerning changes to focus us on what we believe to be right, honing balance and clear priorities for ourselves. We hope that for as many people as possible Christmas is a time that centres around the simple things that really count, the unwavering traditions that will hopefully never change: togetherness, thoughtfulness, celebration, inclusiveness, nourishment, recuperation, and loved ones.
Here are some of our favourite family traditions that have been passed down through generations and are no doubt not that dissimilar to yours:
“My father always read us ‘Twas the Night before Christmas’ on Christmas Eve, first published in the 1800s. He did so with such enthusiasm and character, a truly cherished memory of mine. Although we haven’t read it in more recent years, I am absolutely certain the book will be dusted off as soon as my siblings or I have children of our own! The famous, atmospheric poem heightened our excitement as children and still does when I hear it featured in a film or on an advert. If it isn’t a gleaming example of Christmas tradition, I don’t know what is! The eloquent narration of Santa’s visit has become a worldwide institution and remains popular almost two hundred years later. I adore the idea that it was read to my parents as children and that I will hopefully be able to do the same one day.”
“In our family we have a Christmas meal tradition of “A table present”. After the excitement, and haste, with which we open our presents first thing on Christmas morning, there’s still lots more to look forward to: a Christmas meal, seeing family, singing away to Christmas songs. However, my mum always surprises us with a “table present”. Just after dinner while we’re sharing our Christmas cracker jokes my mum gives everyone in the family one last gift. They are usually small in size (in order to fit on the table and befit their name) but not in thought or value. Over the years I’ve received all sorts from my favourite CD (when music wasn’t downloadable!) to my favourite perfume. My sister and I have returned the tradition and now buy table gifts, to accompany my mum’s, for the family. A few years ago my sister received a wonderful table present in the form of an engagement ring when her boyfriend (now husband) got down on one knee after dinner and proposed to her in front of the whole family!”
“Our Christmases are a mash up of traditions from my Mum and Dad. On Christmas Eve we prepare the food for the cooking marathon the next day and drop off presents to nearby family members. This is a tradition passed down from my Mum and my Welsh grandparents who were incredibly sociable and loved the Christmas party season where they could catch up with friends and family. My Dad is from the North East and spent a lot of his childhood going for family walks and holidaying near the seaside. My parents now live very close to the Northumberland Coast and every year after opening our stockings on Christmas Day we bundle up and head out to the, usually freezing cold, beach for a long walk. However, I must admit, there is one tradition that has fallen by the wayside… my Granny would always go for a dip in the North Sea. None of us are brave enough to follow through on that one! This year we’re actually breaking a tradition and celebrating our first Christmas down in London at my sister’s house. My three and six year old niece and nephew are incredibly excited about this and as soon as the plan was made they started to brainstorm their ideas for the family walk. During the year it can be a challenge to get windows of time where all the family can get together. Christmas is a sacred time where we (almost) always manage to do this and some of my most precious memories are from these holidays. It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we’re together is what matters and I’m looking forward to celebrating old traditions and creating some new ones this year. ”
“Like Anna, our household Christmas traditions are a mixture of both sides of the family. My Dad’s family are originally from Germany, so Christmas Eve was always the big deal. I have fond memories of being at Grandma’s on Christmas Eve, decorating the tree, eating Stollen and exchanging presents a full 24 hours before everyone else. My Mum’s side of the family hail from the North of England and their traditions are altogether less conventional and more involved… Christmas morning begins very early as our most prominent ritual requires a lot of time. Presents are opened one at a time, in order of age, with the youngest family member starting first. Not necessarily a lengthy process, you might think, but then every person present whether family member close or distant, long standing friend, or foreign student far from home, is given a full stocking. Each one of us gets to see what everyone else has been given, and it genuinely instils the joy of gift-giving from a young age (as well as gift-receiving!). I remember my Grandmother’s apparently boundless joy when she opened a box of home-made chocolate truffles, stickily rolled by my pudgy 4-year-old hands and stuffed into a re-used cardboard box. A proud moment indeed. My grandparents lengthened the process even further by writing poems, rhymes and sometimes even sonnets on the outside of the presents to give a clue to the contents. Much to the relief of anyone sharing Christmas at our house, this tradition seems to have dwindled over the years!”
“My family Christmas tradition, handed down through generations, is the Crimbo eve present! It started as an assurance that you were indeed on the Good List & Santa would be visiting that coming eve. As a child I would wake up & rush to the front door – as Crimbo eve gifts came through the post box as festive power wasn’t in full swing until after dark – to see if I had gifts from the big man waiting for me! Now I’m a woman in my 30s I still receive my Crimbo eve gifts & my amazing mum still leaves them amongst the morning post as a nod to our tradition. The gifts have always been the same: a film & a pair of festive PJ’s. Once upon a time it was the latest Disney release to be watched with hot choc in fluffy Santa adorned pyjamas… now it’s a festive favourite on DVD, that is watched snuggled in White Company loungewear while enjoying the first snowball cocktail of the holiday. The smiles & the sense of excitement from the whole family haven’t changed a bit!”
Photography Adam Robertson
Hair Pretty Me Vintage
Dresses Collectif Clothing