It's Tradition -- Celebrating the Holidays

December 22, 2017 | Katherine McG

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'Tis the season for some people to celebrate winter holidays such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and, if they're like me, Christmas. These special times, like all celebrations, are full of wonderful traditions -- those things that we do year after year as a way of connecting the past to the present and remembering those things and people that hold a special place in our hearts.

Here are a few books that highlight some Christmas traditions that you might want to add to your celebrations.

Reading "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"

On Christmas Eve, many children eagerly await the arrival of Santa Claus. They are encouraged to jump in to their beds and cover up their heads so that he can make his annual visit. Before his arrival though, many families (with "kids" both big and little!) gather together to hear a traditional Christmas story which was first written by Clement C. Moore in the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas". 

There are countless versions of this story, which is now commonly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas", not only because it is copyright-free (i.e. in the public domain) but also because for many, reading it has become a cherished tradition. So now, different authors and illustrators each want to give this classic their own unique twist and in so doing, become part of another tradition as they recreate the magic of this timeless tale.

Book Cover: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas - Daniel Kirk

'Twas the Night Before Christmas adapted and illustrated by Daniel Kirk (Ages 0-100+)

Enjoying Christmas Cookies

Festivals and food always go hand-in-hand and Christmas brings with it its own kind of deliciousness. Of course, among all of the yummy yuletide treats, Santa has a clear favourite -- cookies! Traditionally, children leave the big guy a plate of cookies and a glass of milk to thank him for visiting them on Christmas Eve.

And it's not just Canadian children who follow this tradition. Although they may not call him "Santa Claus" nor put out their treats on December 24, children all around the world enjoy making and sharing cookies (and other sweets) at this time of year.

Book Cover: A World of Cookies for Santa
A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World by M.E. Furman (Ages 4+)

Decorating the Tree

In the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas comes just after the Winter Solstice and is traditionally associated with ice and snow. Although some choose to celebrate the shimmering, silvery winter, others long for spring's gorgeous greens, which is one of the reasons why so many Christmas decorations are inspired by nature. There are boughs of holly, evergreen wreaths, and, of course, Christmas trees.

There are many wonderful traditions that revolve around the Christmas tree: homemade decorations, treasured ornaments, and special stars that light the way. And even going to get the tree can be a lovely Christmas tradition in and of itself.

Book Cover: Pick a Pine Tree

Pick a Pine Tree by Patricia Toht (Ages 3-7)

Sharing with Friends and Family

The best part of having traditions is being able to share them with others. Christmas is a time to gather with family and friends so that you can celebrate being together with those you love. 

Everyone has their own unique traditions to share (whether for Christmas or other occasions) and their own ways of celebrating the spirit of the season. What a wonderful gift! From sleigh bells and singing to Yuletide and Yule logs to "pickles and poems", Christmas traditions are as varied and wonderful as the people who come together to celebrate the holiday.

Book Cover: A Christmas for Bear

A Christmas for Bear by Bonny Becker (Ages 4-7)

Yes, 'tis the season to celebrate and a time to embrace traditions that are tried and true and terrific.

Merry Christmas everyone!