Christmas Traditions, Old and New

Christmas, for many, is a time of family traditions. These traditions may provide an opportunity for an older generation to pass on a sense of family history or heritage to a younger generation. They may bring family members closer to each other. They may simply create fun memories.

Many young families strive to incorporate traditions they grew up with, while introducing new traditions as well. There have even been studies suggesting the importance of tradition in family connection and child development. **See sources below.

    Here are some of my old and new traditions:

* Reading the Christmas story in Luke, chapter 2 – this is the oldest tradition I can recall. I remember anxiously waiting, as a child, for the dinner dishes to be done on Christmas Eve. Only after dinner was eaten and the dishes done would we sit down to hear the Christmas story, and then we would open our gifts.

* Watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” – I have seen this movie more times than I could count, and I love it every single time. Both my mom and I can and do quote much of the movie. Watching it together with my mom is the best.

* Candlelight church service on Christmas Eve – this has been a tradition for me for the past ten years or so. I believe my husband grew up with this as a tradition.

* Singing at church for Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, and a Christmas Program – this one has also been about ten years for me.

* Neighborhood luminary display – each year, our entire neighborhood sets out luminaries along the edge of our properties. It is a beautiful sight, and people come to the neighborhood to see it. We have lived here, and been part of this tradition, for eight years.

* Reading storybooks about Christmas with my children – we’ve been collecting Christmas storybooks for about five years. We also have a few that belonged to my husband or me when we were children. It’s fun to read these books together.

* Decorating Cookies – again, this is something that my husband grew up with. It is something we like doing with our children, and this is our second year to gather with other families in our neighborhood to decorate cookies together.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?


Dickstein, S. (2002) Family routines and rituals: The importance of family functioning. Journal of Family Psychology, 6(4), 441-444.

Eaker, D.G. & Walters, L.H. (2002). Adolescent satisfaction in family rituals and psychosocial development: A developmental systems theory perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 16 (4), 441-444


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