Don’t give up on your favourite festive traditions this year (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
It’s all to easy to assume that Christmas this year will be irrecoverably distant from the festivities we once knew.
It’s tempting to give in to the coronavirus dread and write off Christmas with the entirety of 2020, pledging to celebrate next year instead.
But that might not be the best option.
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Instead, one expert says it’s vital that our Christmas this year holds on to some of the familiar traditions that we’ve loved for generations.
Yes, we’ll need to adapt to restrictions and make sure we’re being safe. Pretending that this is just a normal Christmas like every other year isn’t just naive, it could also cause immense harm.
But where we can, continuing our usual festivities could be crucial.
‘It’s safe to say that this has been a tough year,’ says Dr Martina Paglia, a psychologist at The International Psychology Clinic. ‘And as we head towards the end of the year, this Christmas holiday season may matter more than ever.’
Martina explains that traditions are about more than just the simple act of putting up a tree or making gingerbread – they provide comfort, make you feel secure and safe, and allow you to bond with your loved ones.
‘Traditions have a strong place in our heart,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘The decorated streets, the cheer in the air, special meals with the family, lighting trees and candles, shopping for gifts, sending Christmas cards and meaningful time for us to pause and reflect on ourselves.
‘In our otherwise busy lives, they are a means for us to put everything aside for once a year and spend time with our loved ones doing things we love.
‘These holiday traditions such as Christmas have more meaning and value to them other than just exchanging gifts.
‘These ritualistic behaviours help nurture us and reinvigorate our bonds with family and friends. Rounding up everyone to do their parts decorating and cooking around the house, special meals with the family, having all your cousins around, arranging popcorn and movie nights, giving each other presents, spending time with your elders, etc.
‘Children also get more time to know their larger part of the family. Traditions are a wonderful way to anchor family members to one another.’
Cultural and religious traditions can help us feel more connected to our history, while those we associate with being with family help to strengthen those emotional bonds, even if you’re not doing these traditions together.
It’s all about harkening back to Christmases past and enjoying the positive emotions associated with delving into festive memories.
‘Other than that traditions make us closer to our culture and add more meaning to our lives,’ says Martina. ‘Being isolated from culture is a dilemma we often find ourselves in.
‘But with Christmas, even for a short time, we get back to our roots and learn to take joy in our traditions.’
We might not be able to have a Christmas exactly like the years before, and yes, things are going to feel a little different.
But there are rituals and routines we can do whatever the circumstances, whether we’re rejoicing with our grandparents over Zoom or we’re bubbled up with a partner.
Have a think about which traditions you can carry through that will bring you comfort. Maybe that’s as simple as actually bothering to put up the tree, or going for a walk in the early hours, or watching Home Alone.
These may seem frivolous, but they’re essential in our mission to tackle stress, pause, and celebrate Christmas after a really difficult time.
‘All of these blessings of Christmas can be especially helpful this year,’ Martina says. ‘People have undergone a lot of stress due to different events that have happened and some have lost their loved ones too.
‘Some have dealt with extended separation too because of the quarantine restrictions due to which they were unable to travel between countries.
‘With living in quarantine and away from each other for quite some time, Christmas now brings another chance for everyone to meet up (even if it’s virtually) and strengthen their bonds.
‘We can look forward to Christmas to finally have relief and use this time to take off the stress that has been following us for a better part of this year.’
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