Carry on, create new family traditions at your home

There are so many holiday traditions this time of year such as trimming the tree, baking cookies, stringing lights and family get togethers. Let your home be part of the celebration.

Our family decorates the mailbox and puts out a gift for the mail carrier. You probably put signs and lights up to wish other people joy. Your home is an extension of you and can say “welcome” with a festive wreath or “comfort” with a fire in the fireplace and a warm meal. Putting up a Christmas tree is a tradition that started in Germany. The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave the first description of a decorated Christmas tree in a German household when he reported in 1799 about having seen such a tree. Charles Loring Brace, who witnessed a Christmas celebration in Berlin nearly 20 years later, considered it a holiday tradition that provided the emotional glue that could bring families and members of a nation together.

In 1843, a Harvard professor, George Ticknor, invited several prominent friends to join him in a Christmas celebration with a Christmas tree and gift-giving in his Boston home. Ticknor’s holiday party was the first Christmas celebration in the United States featuring a Christmas tree that began to spread to other homes.  Gift-giving started long before Christmas was set as a day to remember Christ’s birth. The most popular notion is the tradition started as a commemoration of the three gifts the Magi brought to the baby Jesus after he was born.

While Christmas became a tradition in the fourth century, gift-giving during holidays is of Roman origin. It was part of a celebration offered to the Roman god, Saturn – who was viewed to be the god of agriculture – who gave vegetation and fruitfulness all year round. Now the average American gives 24 gifts to others each year. In France, a traditional Christmas Eve meal is a light affair that consists of fish, vegetables and various soups. Thirteen desserts are brought out after the meal – the number referencing Jesus and the 12 apostles.

In your home, I’m sure there are many traditions too. Traditions are important because they teach our children what we value. Spending time playing games, decorating or baking tells our family they are loved and time together is precious. Purchasing items for the Angel Tree, volunteering to feed the hungry or packing backpacks for the homeless show charity is important and we all have ways we can give. Remembering the significance of the birth of Christ by attending a candlelight service, reading the story from Luke or giving three gifts (like the wise men gave to Jesus at his birth) are ways to show religious beliefs. Jewish religion celebrates eight days of Hanukkah with special foods and candle-lighting which is a message of freedom, courage and religious integrity.

Carry on your family traditions and remember what they represent.

Create new traditions. Your home is a symbol of you – let it be part of showing others what you value this year. Lights bring joy, volunteering shows sacrifice for others, gifts reflect the importance of relationships and celebrations area a way of giving thanks. Caroling brings friends together and spreads cheer to your neighbors.

The Lynchburg Association of Realtors wishes you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!