Christmas Traditions of the Rinesmith Family and the World

Zoey Rinesmith, Editor

Christmas is a special time of the year for everyone all around the world. Though there are many ways to celebrate it, many celebrate it similarly. Some of these traditions include exchanging gifts on Christmas morning, leaving cookies and milk out for Santa, and putting up a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and lights. But not all countries celebrate Christmas the same. 

A tradition I wish was practiced here is, but is practiced in Iceland, and other countries, is exchanging books on Christmas Eve. This tradition is called Jolabokaflod which translates into “Christmas Book Flood.” They exchange books on Christmas Eve but it’s not just about the giving —it’s also about the reading! Another tradition I thought was interesting is in France- they hang mistletoe for good luck. Many countries hang mistletoe as a reminder to not forget what you are thankful for, plus people use it as an excuse to kiss their significant others. 

My family celebrates Christmas the same almost every year. As a family we set up our Christmas Tree together. But my dad always puts the angel on the top. My dad strings the lights, and I help him hold them and ensure they don’t get tangled. Then my brother and mom help with fluffing the branches and placing them on the tree stem. On Christmas Eve me and my family attend a communion service at my church, which my mom makes us dress up for, but after we return home our fancy clothes leave and we are all in pjs. After we change and return home Jacob, my eldest brother, and his family come over to have Christmas with us. After Christmas with Jacob and his family, my older brother and I shared the gifts we bought for each other, before watching Polar Express as a family before bed. Another tradition is after Christmas lights go up, my family goes to different towns and visits the Christmas lights.  One of our favorite places to visit is a house in Robinson that has music connected to their lights. One thing that will never change is on Christmas morning, we always open stockings first. And if you know my family we are very movie and tv show obsessed, so we alway receive a movie or show in our stockings. One tradition that is fairly new is getting one more expensive gift and then a few smaller gifts. This became a tradition after me and my brother got a little older, and I started high school.

Though America does not believe in this, the men, women and children in Austria have what is known as a ‘Bad Santa’. This half-man half-goat creature is named Krampus. Krampus comes around on Christmas Eve to see what children have been naughty. If they have been he takes him and drags them to hell. Krampus is one such character who comes from folklore in Austria’s Alpine region, where he’s been frightening children and amusing adults for hundreds of years.

Santa Claus, though, is also folklore, but the lore is based on a real man, St. Nicholas from the 3rd Century. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around A.D. 280 in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is believed that he was a monk that gave all of his fortune away to help the poor and sick. One of the most famous stories of St. Nicholas is him saving three sisters from slavery and prostitution after their dad sold them to a dowery to be married. His story has changed from the 3rd to the 21st century. St. Nicholas is the inspiration for the Santa Clause we know today, a jolly man in red that delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve. My family thinks that Santa or St. Nicholas is somewhat of a spirit that lives in each of us. Therefore we are Santa, in fact the year my parents told me this, I looked to my brother and said “Then it looks like you are getting coal, because you’ve been naughty.” This caused my family much laughter and we still talk about the event today.

Even though our traditions are the same as many families, we all have a different spin on Christmas. Christmas is celebrated all over the world, by different people, in different ways, but we are all celebrating together, even far apart.