2015.12.01 Traditions = Micro Cultures

Like almost no other time of year, December has a lot of traditions that get reinforced year after year.

According to my culture, one of these traditions relate to lightning of Advent lights.

In some families, one candle is lit on the first Sunday in Advent, two on the second Sunday etc. until at the last Sunday before Christmas all four candles get lit.

That is a very nice tradition and I vaguely remember it happening this way in my childhood as well. Supposedly, it was the tradition in my husband's family, too.

That is not the way we now light our candles. Neither are they only lit on Sundays but grace our dinner table through the whole Advent time - and probably a week into January.

We get comments on that.

I don't know if you celebrate Christmas - and if you do, if it involves gifts - and if it does, if such gifts are opened on the 25th in the morning or in the 24th on the evening. I don't know if you eat special food at your special events. I don't know if you have an Advent candle tradition.

What I do know is that in some families deep fissures can emerge if traditions are not aligned or adhered to

Moving to another country may upset some of your traditions.

If your traditions involve special foods you can't find where you normally shop, check under Resources(in Danish). You just might find them if you know where to look. Allow time for shipping.

If your traditions involve a tree, should it have live candles? That may not be smart if you live in a wooden structure. Particularly not if you have taken up a tradition of decorating your tree around Thanksgiving and it is bone dry around Christmas.

Even if you have just chopped down the tree on December 24th and live in a brick house... even if you have rented a live tree in a pot (yes, you can do that), live candles on the tree may not be legal.

(If you should get the impression that I have tried to have live candles on my tree, you are right. From my very first Christmas in my grandparents' house until the first Christmas after I moved to the U.S. - I realized in retrospect that it was not a wise decision while living in a rented house made of wood with a tree I didn't know when was cut.)

(Yes, we did get comments on that.)

If your traditions involve sending cards and/or gifts - be early. One may be surprised that the holidays are coming around if the weather pattern is different from back home. (It catches me off guard every year because the California sun shines, I so love and concentrate on Thanksgiving, and ooops, then it's December.)

Perhaps being away gives an excuse to invent new traditions. We gladly have given up on the live candles because we now can light the tree whenever we feel like. But it still stays outside until right before Christmas.

We do get comments on that, too.

Your traditions may be upset but don't let that upset you. Don't let my traditions upset you. And don't let it upset you whether Starbucks have snowflakes on their cups, whether your neighbor has the "wrong" kind of lights, whether somebody greets you according to their tradition even if it is not yours. Because the most important message should be Peace on Earth.

Regardless of cultural background - micro as in family traditions or more broadly as in faith or nationality - let us start practicing today...