Yuletide Traditions of Our Childhood
The Holiday Season is officially in full swing! Everyone has their own holiday traditions, of course, but these days, they might look a little different than they used to. While some things, like Christmas tree decorating, cookie baking, gingerbread house building, and having Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” set to repeat, have maintained their eternal tradition status, alongside newer ones like Elf on The Shelf, many of the OG traditions of our childhoods have been abandoned or modernized. Here’s some of our favorite traditions that have come and gone, or have evolved to fit the 21st Century!
One of my favorite traditions growing up was making popcorn garlands and trimmings for our trees. It was messy, sticky, time consuming, and by the end of it, we had eaten half the popcorn. But it was all of those things that made it so fun - especially since I was a kid and not completely responsible for cleaning the mess up afterwards. Though popcorn garlands can still be found in some households, the tradition of making your own popcorn strands mixed with the fruit of your choice is slowly being replaced. Because we can get nearly anything we want from Amazon in about 2 seconds, taking the time to make your own garland has lost its allure for many. It’s still a great Christmas snack though! Or, really, any day snack if we’re being honest.
Going along with the garland and tree trimming theme, tinsel also used to be a BIG deal at Christmas time. For the kids, it was shiny and fun to hang on the tree. And it added just a touch of whimsical for the adults that were children at heart. However, it takes a bit of effort to clean up and remove it every year. When you can buy a shiny tree nowadays, some that are recycled and more eco-friendly than the non-recyclable tinsel, putting up each individual strand of tinsel has lost the charm it used to have for most people. However, according to The Santa Clause, tinsel is a great way to break Santa out of a holding cell, so maybe hold on to some, just in case you ever need to spring Santa.
Chestnut roasting was a popular holiday tradition long before Nat King Cole immortalized the practice in “The Christmas Song”. Especially along the East Coast, roasted chestnuts were a big hit, thanks to the large population of American chestnut trees that grew from Maine to Georgia and even as far west as Ohio. However, kids these days will probably never experience the magical sweetness that came from these trees, due to the functional extinction of the tree due to a blight in the first half of the 20th century. Those who tried to maintain the tradition without the American chestnut found the practice to be a bit more tedious and the chestnuts less sweet and less crunchy, so the tradition is slowly dying out. However, candied nuts still play a big role in many households around Christmas time! So, though we do not have the chestnuts of days gone by, their legacy lives on in newer, modern adaptations!
Stockings Filled with Coal
Filling stockings with lumps of coal for naughty kids dates back hundreds of years and is thought to have started in Sicily. However, whether it is correlated or not, the threat of Santa punishing you for your misdeeds started to go away about the same time as roasting chestnuts on coal did. When we were kids, the threat of a lump of coal was very real. In fact, it turned out to not be a mere threat for some of us here at Local Vyntage. Slowly, though, this tradition has fizzled out, being replaced with the threat of no toys, or even just fewer toys. Would future generations of kids even know what a lump of coal was if they got one in their stocking?
Letters to Santa
Writing to Santa was always a big deal for us here at Local Vyntage. The feeling of making a list all year long, writing and asking for only your most special requests, going to the mall to drop your letter off, and feeling the ecstatic joy on Christmas morning when you saw what he brought simply can’t be matched. Writing letters to Santa is still a tradition that many practice, but it may not be the same as it used to be. Yes, you can still do it the correct way, with a pen, paper and a stamp. But Santa now also has a website - or several if we’re being accurate. Now, all letters can be emailed directly to the elves' inbox for review! This tradition continues on, but in a wider variety of formats. Receiving as many emails as we do here at LV a day around Christmas time, we wonder how Santa keeps up with all his mail, e- or otherwise!
Last, but certainly not least, we have the yule log! The Yule log tradition is claimed by many different cultures. No matter its origin, the tradition has been picked up by Christians and Pagans alike. The lighting of the yule log, by my childhood, had shifted from the lighting of the log itself to placing candles in a log and lighting those instead. Nowadays, however, it is even more simple than that! All you have to do is speak into your TV remote control, say “Yule Log” and poof, there it is on your screen! Though this tradition has taken on a new format, you have to admit, it’s still kinda fun!
I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane and, maybe, feel inspired to rekindle some of the traditions from your youth whether your traditions made it on this list or not.
Happy holidays from all of us here at Local Vyntage!