Thursday, 27 November 2014

For sale: brand new traditions

Happy Thanksgiving, if you're in the US! I must admit, I always think of it as akin to a British Harvest Festival (probably because of the association with crops) and so the timing takes me aback every year because it's about three months later. It must be nice to have something falling in November to prevent the slide into Christmas mania; here in the UK Halloween acts as a bit of a brake, and Bonfire Night slows things down a little, but after that it's nearly two solid months of CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS! CHRISTMAS! and it can all get a bit much.



This year I must admit I'm feeling curmudgeonly about the number of 'traditional' things going on that aren't actually traditional here. Gemma highlighted one in her post on Christmas jumpers. They've only been a thing in the UK for the past decade, if that. Yet somehow masses of people have convinced themselves it's 'traditional', to the point where New Look's PRs asked Gemma to show photos of herself in them from years gone by. Seriously, if anyone British over the age of 20 can show me a photo of themself as a child under 10 in a Christmas jumper I'll... I'll... I'll eat a pound of sprouts! And Black Friday can bite me. Seriously, WHY IS THAT A THING? We don't have Thanksgiving, so how on earth are we having a 'day-after' Thanksgiving sales frenzy. Oh, hang on, that'd be those pesky PRs up to their old tricks again. Well, call me Scooby Doo, Raggy, because they're not getting away with it – this pesky kid can see right through them!

I've nothing against new things becoming customary, in fact I think the loveliest festive traditions are ones people make for themselves. I always have red-and-white toadstools on the Christmas tree because they were something we picked up in Germany when I was a child, and it's been part of my Christmas ever since. Mr Robot has bears. Nowadays, we always get together with our friends Matt and Lucy between Christmas and New Year for a slap up meal, and that's one of the best things about the holiday now for me. I bet you have your own personal traditions, whether it's wearing cracker hats all day, putting up the tree on a special date, or shunning turkey for a gammon joint. It's your holiday, your way. (And I'd love to hear about your personal celebrations.) Traditions come and go; very few people tell ghost stories for Christmas now, for example, but watching Elf seems to have become a much-loved staple for many people. It's being sold new 'traditions' that offends me. That and the fact that so many people seem to accept it. How much sherry trifle did they eat to be able to forget every Christmas they ever had, eh? Or were all their Christmasses so ghastly that they want to get all misty eyed about someone else's?

So here's my plea: if you're going to make a new tradition, make it for yourself, develop it over years and make it something special and uniquely yours. Don't simply buy it because someone somewhere is selling it to you, even if it does come with a Black Friday pricetag. And don't let someone brainwash you into thinking you should do (buy!) something because it's 'traditional' when you've never done it in your life!


And now for something completely different 
On the work party dress front, I've decided to go with the navy Boden dress. It's got a vintage look, but isn't irreplaceable, and the fabric is probably sturdy enough to take whatever stresses I put on it. I doubt there'll be anything like a bouncy castle at the work party, but it's always best to be prepared for these things, don't you think? Should there be karaoke, I can always do the Monster Mash - It's a graveyard smash and, more importantly, requires absolutely no singing. Yup, all ready to party like a party animal. A traditional party animal.

16 comments :

  1. It's the global melting-pot, it all gets mixed up. A shame sometimes that the emphasis is on the American, because there are some really wonderful Scandinavian festive traditions etc. We don't have any connection to Scandinavia so I can't really adopt any, apart from some baked goodies perhaps.

    I do resent being sold-at quite so much, but I am a sucker for a bargain at the same time, so if I was planning on buying something large anyway then of course I'd take advantage of Black Friday.

    As for traditions - I've started a new one of GLAMOUR for Christmas day, no jumpers in sight!
    x

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    1. Glamour is a good tradition! Christmas needs sparkle.

      Work is having a Christmas jumper day. I will not be participating, owing to not owning one.

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  2. Of all the good things America could export to the world, we go with shopping. Sigh. Literature, visual arts, music...no, Black Friday is our contribution.

    The Christmas jumper thing is fairly recent here too, and started as a way to wear the hideous things people made. For a laugh. Now, they sell "Ugly Christmas Sweaters" at department stores which really sucks the fun right out of it.

    The German-style Christmas Markets are becoming more widespread in my part of the country, but the, "Traditional" items being sold are all made in China.

    I sound more and more Marxist each time I open my mouth to complain about the capitalist orgy that is Black Friday (and beyond) so for the sake of not ruining it for everyone else, I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen baking. Call it a survival tactic. Saffron buns, anyone?

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    1. And cocktails. That's a very good contribution to global culture.

      Christmas markets have become really popular over here - Birmingham has a German one that's the largest outside Germany, and holiday companies run trips to the ones on the continent. Bath's one has a lot of local businesses (cheese aged in the caves at Cheddar, Somerset cider brandy, that sort of thing) so it's good for giving regional producers a boost. I quite like the food and drink side of the market; the stew-in-a-box stall is great if I want a filling lunch, and it's nice to go for bratwurst after work. It's just horrible at peak hours because of the crowds.

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  3. We definitely have traditions; the aforementioned Blorpfest being one. Tree goes up 1st December, we have a weekend in London with Matt's parents, we open presents at midnight and have bucks fizz on Christmas morning. I don't mind "Black Friday" in principle, particularly for fashion and beauty retailers as it gives people the opportunity to buy gifts without feeling like crap when it's all reduced on the 26th. But being a winter goods company the last weekend in November (payday) has long been our biggest 2 or 3 days of the year anyway. As for Christmas jumpers; not traditional! Ones with sparkly bits in the wool, yes. Ones sporting reindeer in santa hats, no.

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    1. Yes, it is good that people can buy their gifts early. A lot of people were criticising the fights etc, but I saw it as a sign of how desperately hard up people are, and that makes me sad.

      We are making epic plans for Blorpfest. We need to measure the oven before ordering the meat for the main course...

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  4. I have no idea why we have Black Friday here either, it's ridiculous. All the people on the news scrapping over things they didn't need, they should be ashamed. It's obscene.

    We have our traditions, namely veggie sausage rolls on Christmas Eve, yum! We've done it for absolutely years now. I also found a vegan version of eggnog which I can't wait to have a go at and have that as a decorating the tree tradition; we even renamed it Snow Milk as we both agree eggnog sounds yucky! We also watch copious amounts of Christmas films in the run up. We love both Elf and Bad Santa for newer films xxx

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    1. I have never seen Elf so my husband bought it for me on DVD! It's Muppets Christmas Carol in our house - and Lord of the Rings between Christmas and New Year.

      Veggie sausage rolls on Christmas Eve sounds like an ace tradition.

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  5. I was pondering the Christmas jumper thing after Gemma's post too. I don't remember such a beast, I think people have mixed them up with all the mad in your face 80's jumpers. I certainly never had a Christmas jumper though I do remember getting a huge Joe Cool Snoopy sweatshirt one year, damn I wish I still had that.
    Even though I no longer live at home I still upkeep my family's tradition of watching A Christmas Carol (George C Scoot version) with a bottle of fizz on Christmas eve. Himself and I have just embellished it by watching The Muppets version first....and maybe opening another bottle!

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    1. Nowt wrong with a bit of festive fizz. The Muppets are my must-see too. (Belle's song makes me cry!)

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  6. Specifically Christmas jumpers rather than just garish jumpers you get at Christmas do seem to be a fairly modern notion, although I think they’ve been around longer than you imagine given there was a running joke about them in Bridget Jones’ Diary which is 2001.
    Black Friday is pretty odious, or rather people’s reaction to it is pretty odious. Nobody makes people punch each other for a flat screen telly!

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    1. Aaah, interesting. See, I've never wanted to read that book, but now I feel I should just to see what context the jumper appears in.

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    2. I've never read the book, I'm just going on the film (which I am a disturbingly big fan of!)

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    3. I've never seen that either! Maybe if it appears on Netflix...

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  7. I probably shouldn't comment at all as you could easily end up with some kind of tirade! I don't like the way Christmas starts on 1st November in adverts and in shops. It feels more special to me when it is kept for a shorter period. I was kind of shocked by the Black Friday supermarket fights footage, does that happen in America too? I don't recall owning a Christmas jumper as a child, and don't have one know either.

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    1. I think Black Friday is pretty gung-ho in the US too. I feel sad that we live in a society where *things* are held in such esteem that people feel driven to act like that.

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