Where do you stand on the whole ‘let’s kick off Christmas’ business?
If I’m totally honest, I actually find it a bit annoying how overrated Christmas is. I do like it, but I just hate how commercialised it is. I might be wrong on that, but I have an impression that we here in Poland are a bit more composed in this field. Of course, media and marketing are pretty universal all around the world, but as for people, I have an impression they’re not as obsessed about Christmas as people in some other countries often seem to be. ‘Cause, from what I see as an outside observer, it looks like as soon as the Halloween boom ends, people are running straight into the Christmas obsession.
Over here, the traditions of All Souls’ Day and All Saints’ Day are pretty much a part of our culture, a rather important one I’d say, so we come into the November in a rather slow, melancholic way, rather than with our mind racing already to December. You can see gravelights in the shops, and the atmosphere, even in the always noisy media, is a bit more tranquil and pensive.
So like the first decade or so is occupied by thinking about our loved ones who died, and then is Independence Day, which is always hugely talked about in the media, but I don’t think it has a really important place in marketing, though this year it was a bit different because it was the 100th anniversary of our Independence so it was all much more festive.
And then, we too, kick off the Christmas season. At least the shops and streets and media do, people are a bit more restrained, or perhaps have slow reaction, but generally it’s not like switching to the Christmas mode straight away, it’s more of a process, so it’s actually the second half of November when things are really running. But still, people DO obsess about Christmas. I guess even my writing this post that early shows it very well, haha, but I saw the question in the Internets, so wanted to know what your opinions are and share mine. 😀
And I wonder why on Earth?! Are we all in the so called Christian world so naive and submissive and whatever media will tell us, or shops will set on the display, we’ll swallow it? Or maybe, although so many people declare they are atheists, or agnostics, or Christians, but not practicing (what’s the point in being a not practicing Christian, that’s another thing), maybe we still subconsciously need something to believe in, something to celebrate, something to be happy about, so let’s be happy that Christ was born, no matter whether it makes any difference for us practically or not. But that seems not a very good explanation, especially that in all that mess it’s actually hard to tell, what we are celebrating. It’s Jesus’ birthday, but sadly, although the celebrations are running, the birthday boy Himself doesn’t receive much of attention, I’d risk a statement that some of His “guests” actually might not realise what they are celebrating really, other than it’s just to have fun. Maybe that’s why it gets on my nerves when people write Xmas instead of Christmas. I know, I know, the Greek letter Chi, but still, it looks so weird… In the spelling Christmas, you have Christ, so you know what’s it about, but Xmas looks so enigmatic. Like a mathematical operation, with an X. No one knows what it is… And I hate maths too, and I (usually) try to avoid the abbreviations, so yeah, it really don’t like “Xmas”. It looks like a mass/mainstream holiday about which no one knows anything. Yuck. My Mum once said a funny and interesting thing, if aliens came to us around Christmas time – and I think they don’t have to necessarily be aliens like from another planet, anyone who doesn’t really get the modern world, culture, just lives under the rock, – so if they came and saw all the people so very excited, rushing to the shops, all the decorations and generally the overwhelming waves of stimuli everywhere, what would they think we’re celebrating? Would they be able to guess it? My Mum said that in her opinion they’d think we’re celebrating that the snow has fallen, or, because it doesn’t, we’re making a ceremony to beg heavens for sending it. 😀 Quite possible. Well, they don’t have to know what we are celebrating, but usually, when people celebrate something, especially that loudly and festively, they have a good reason for it, they want the reason to be visible, known, they are happy about it. So what are we happy about when celebrating Christmas? I mean there are lots and lots of things to be happy about, but is there something particular for most people that would set Christmas apart from any other holiday? Or maybe, the reason why we love Christmas so much, is that we’re so greedy! For good, festive food, for presents… Actually, for many people, presents seem to be what counts the most, and while it’s obvious that we enjoy receiving nice things, and it’s rather normal for children to focus on it a lot, I’m not sure it’s a good thing for adults to look forward for any holidays mainlyin hopes they will get something, as a primary reason. So I hope that’s not the point of it.
Also, what strikes me, is how when finally Christmas starts, the overwhelming euphoria finally subsides, then when it’s the second day of Christmas, or Boxing Day or st. Stephen’s Day or however else you call it, it’s much much quieter with people solely focused on watching TV and eating the leftovers, or curing from digestive issues, and then when the second day of Christmas is gone, all the turmoil is gone too. Well that’s quite logical, Christmas is over so the euphoria is over too, but (maybe it’s just me?) to me it looks a little bit unnatural. Like you obsess about something, shout about it, and then you suddenly go quiet. Sometimes it feels a bit like we already forgot about Christmas as soon as it’s finished. It shows how true it is that waiting for something nice to happen is often much more enjoyable than this thing itself.
But I have an impression that it should be the other way around! It still is so in a way over here, and I guess generally in Catholic countries Christmas season, the actual Christmas season is still a bit more pronounced despite the pre-Christmas euphoria. ‘Cause it doesn’t make much sense to me that now people want to have Christmas season in Advent or before, and then all the joy is gone after Christmas ends. It is like with a child who can’t wait for his Christmas presents, so he unwraps them weeks earlier, and then after Christmas all the joy is just a dim recollection.
I feel like Advent should be the time of awaiting. Some people say it should be a sad time of uncertainty, I don’t think so. But it definitely shouldn’t be euphoric and shouty. Just waiting patiently and happily, preparing, in peace and quiet, maybe a bit pensively.
And then, when Christmas (or Christmas Eve) comes, or just a couple days before, you can get real Christmassy, get out the decorations and stuff.
And after Christmas, you have your lovely Christmas season until 6th January, or even longer if you wish. I don’t know actually whether it’s a norm in other countries too that Christmas season can last for longer. But for us, it’s as long as until 2nd February. That’s how long you can “officially” sing Christmas carols, and you can still see Christmas trees and other christmasy decorations in like mid January in lots of houses. People are eating up their ginger breads, visiting all those whom they weren’t able to visit on Christmas and giving them presents, etc.
At least to me, that makes much more sense, and that’s how things are in my house. If we have some stuff to do that needs more preparations, or that we don’t want to do in a rush, we will of course do it earlier, not in the last minute, but that’s usually not until the December starts. From what I know, in other countries which celebrate Advent, it can start at different times, but for us it’s roughly last Sunday of November or first Sunday of December.
Our family tradition related to Christmas is that we can’t do without pierogi with cabbage and mushrooms on Christmas Eve’s dinner. I suppose you all know what pierogi are, but if you don’t, I’ll tell you it’s a dish, made of dough, and they can have various stuffings. The Christmas pierogi are usually with cabbage and mushrooms. We all love it except for my Dad, and both me and my siblings find it the best and absolutely necessary element of Christmas Eve dinner, ’cause other than that it’s mainly fish, and neither of us is too keen on fish. Particularly my brother loves these pierogi.
So they have to be prepared earlier, and our poor Mum usually makes a whole lot of them so that there will be enough of them for the whole Christmas season, so no one would whine that they are already gone. They wait in the refridgerator until Christmas Eve.
As for the Christmas decorations, we usually get a Christmas tree and decorate it just a couple of days before Christmas Eve, and sometimes even on Christmas Eve morning. Same with other decorations, which had been mostly made by my Mum, or things that we have since many years and don’t change them. Our Christmas tree rarely stands for a long time, Mum usually wants to get rid of it quickly as she hates the needles on the floor, and Misha is usually very determined to climb up on it, take off the decorations and eat the branches, but we don’t want an artificial one.
Me and Zofijka really like making gingerbreads, but we don’t always do them, but if we do, it’s also usually about a week before Christmas. The rest of food is made later.
Buying presents is a thing that is quite time consuming and sometimes might be a little bit of a hassle, but for us it always seems to go rather smoothly, I buy all of the things I want to give people or myself online about a week before Christmas or so, or I go buy them with Mum when there is another opportunity and we have a bit of a time for it.
And of course Mum does a big cleaning a couple days before Christmas, but, if I’m honest with you, my Mum is a little bit of a stickler and for me it doesn’t seem as that big house cleaning is particularly different or bigger than any other casual cleaning, (but don’t tell her I said this 😉 ).
In the past, our Christmases used to look very festive and familial and loud, and, of course it’s nice to see all your family, have a lot of yummy food and stuff, but it was always quite challenging and anxiety provoking for me, and in a way I didn’t particularly like it. Since a couple of years though, we have our Christmas Eve dinner at home – we always had it with grandparents in the past – and then, after the dinner with just my parents and siblings and Misha, we go for a while to grandparents and generally my Mum’s family, until it’s time for the Midnight Mass. And last year, apart from that, we weren’t celebrating too festively, we spent time mostly together, without extended family, and it was calm and not overly euphoric.A
And that would be all as for my Christmas preparations and stuff, and as you see, they’re neither big, nor particularly early, it’s also that I myself don’t have much to prepare other than buying presents for people, I don’t have my own house so luckily I don’t have to do the big house cleaning, it could be quite disastrous and then indeed it could be a good idea that I should start it straight after Halloween. 😀
And I am happy that in our family it’s clear what we are celebrating.
OK, so what’s YOUR view on this? And how early or late do you personally prepare for Christmas? Do you like it? 🙂