Many people hope that this Christmas will be better than last year’s. I was expecting so too. Unfortunately, my reason may resonate with others because we have lost loved ones. They may have been lost this year, last year, the year before, even many years ago. Sadly, the pain can feel like the day their loved one passed.
Some people are hoping that this year will be better than last year because of the lockdowns. Like so many others, my plans were changed too. For me, it was hard coming to terms with the change because we were all promised that everything would be back to ‘normal’ because we behaved like good citizens and stayed in our homes. We stayed away from each other. For some, it was the biggest challenge of their life. Babies were born not knowing what it was like to mix with people other than their parents.
It didn’t matter about your financial situation, your age, sex, gender, health, or religious affiliations. Everyone was affected in some way or another.
Last year was the first year I was happy to see houses decorated before December because it signified hope. I hoped that everything was going to all be alright.
This year the decorations appeared early again (in November), and I am happy to say that I was pleased to see them again.
Maybe, this is the beginning of a new tradition for some.
Some families have traditions that have been passed down through the generations. Mine was simple, putting up and decorating the Christmas tree on the first Sunday of December. I think that’s an easy one to do.
Here are a few that I’ve heard of:
- Going to the pantomime
- Watching a favourite old movie or sitcom
- Watching the Queen’s speech
- Going to church
- Meeting with family members on a particular day during the festivities
- Eating certain foods
- Playing board games
- Carol singing
- Baking/erecting a gingerbread house
- Wearing a Christmas jumper/pyjamas
- Drinking certain drinks
- Kissing under the mistletoe
- Eating too much and
- Hanging stockings over the fire.
Do you have any traditions? What are they?
Some traditions are determined by culture or religion.
For example, in some cities, Brighton, people dress in fancy dress and go for a swim in the sea on Christmas morning. Brighton’s Christmas morning swim started in 1860.
- Polish families gather on Christmas Eve for the Wigilia celebration. There is a meal made up of several courses that start at the appearance of the first star. An empty seat is set for the Lord or a wandering soul seeking shelter or food. There are twelve different courses, none containing any meat.
- In Brazil and Portugal, the most significant Christmas celebration happens on Christmas Eve. The family participates in a meal that culminates (at midnight) by exchanging gifts and fireworks.
- Barbados Christmas is celebrated on the 25th of December, and the highlight of the meal is a baked ham decorated with a pineapple and a sorrel glaze. In addition to that, there is a Scottish influence dish called Jug Jug, which incorporates pigeon peas, guinea cornflower, herbs, and salt meat. This is accompanied by a rum cake.
- Christmas isn’t formally celebrated in Japan. However, a tradition started in 1974, called Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii! or Kentucky for Christmas! Apparently, a marketing strategy encouraged people to go to Kentucky Fried Chicken for the first time that year on Christmas Day. It is now that popular that people are prepared to stand in a queue for up to two hours if they did not book their box of KFC chicken two months in advance.
There are many more cultural and religious traditions. These are just a snapshot of those carried out. I am now in the mindset of making your own traditions (if you wish) as I feel it gives them more meaning.
Even though I now have grandchildren and their parents probably have established their own traditions, I continue mine. Some traditions bring comfort and evoke memories. So, at this moment I see no reason why I should not continue with mine.
It’s hard to think about Christmas without thinking about finance and debt, even more so (for some people) since the lockdowns. Unfortunately, some businesses are no longer around. People have lost jobs. Or their roles reduced along with their pay. Some people were furloughed, but not to the level of their original salary and were later ‘let go of’ after the furloughed ended.
More people are claiming Universal Credit now than there have ever been. Some, due to the loss of work. Unfortunately, some have had to reduce their working week because of the effects of long covid. Some people have had to give up working altogether.
Sadly, it will be a difficult Christmas for many reasons for some families.
Marcus Rashford MBE
On 13th December, it was estimated that 2.3 million children went to be bed hungry last month.
As a result of the plight of some families, Marcus Rashford MBE and Chef Tom Kerridge have launched an initiative to raise money to provide food for families for Christmas along with the charity Fare Share. The meals devised by Tom Kerridge cost £10 and can feed a family of six for two days. Families will be given vouchers to exchange for ingredients to make a meal for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. They will have a choice of turkey roll with stuffing, tray bake vegetables and potato and carrot hash with fried eggs. The recipe leaflet is available to purchase at WH Smiths and Sons for those who need inspiration and is another way to donate to the cause.
Last year a restaurant, inspired by Marcus’ generosity, gave out 1,500 meals on Christmas day. They are planning to do the same again this year. Mumtaz, in Leeds, will be giving out 1000 pre-made meals on Christmas day. It’s unclear if the meal served there will be the same as Rushford’s Turkey roll with stuffing and tray baked vegetables.
A Twitter feed was sent out a few days ago that enable people to donate to the Full Time Meal campaign. Donations of £5, £10 or £20 can be made via:
My plans are simple for this Christmas. They are to spend as much time with my family and friends, having fun and creating lasting memories.
What are yours?
Whatever they are, stay safe.
Written by Sharon RM Stevens
Help is on hand, should you need it: