Not Everyone is Into Christmas (The Way You See Christmas)
Here is something that a lot of people might, and do, find shocking:
I don’t care about Christmas.
Yes, I do have a heart. It’s quite big and friendly.
My lack of caring takes root elsewhere – I was born and raised Ukrainian.
So consider this your brief Eastern European Cultural Education Seminar.
We are Christian Orthodox, which means that our Christmas is in January. Yes, just like the Greeks.
Some Ukrainians choose to adopt to the local Holiday traditions; others maintain or create their own.
The little of my family that moved with me to North America are not particularly religious or festive.
All I think of when I hear Christmas is, “Must stay away from the mall” and, “Finally, a couple days off.”
We do have a tree and we do give each other presents. We just do it in a slightly different way.
Our tree goes up late December, we cook a huge dinner on New Year’s Eve, wear pretty clothes, drink champagne and then open gifts after the clock strikes midnight. As such, I have never been to a New Year’s party as most of North America envisions it.
The actual Christmas (January) celebrations are very different from those practiced by anyone who’s not, well, Ukrainian.
These celebrations last a few days, involve the entire family and conclude with a Holy Supper. There are songs, costumes, special foods, throwing around of various grains and a lot of rules. I remember being a kid and having to climb through the snow to visit all my aunts and uncles and sing them songs in exchange for candy, nuts, mandarins and money. There were grains on my bed for weeks after, enough food in the house to feed a small army, and mandarins – I distinctly remember those because we only had them in the winter time.
Ukrainian culture is full of rich traditions. A lot of that tradition got lost with the fall of the Union. What’s left of it is quickly getting lost in sliced bread and liquid Euro wallpapers.
The last proper Ukrainian Christmas I remember was somewhere in the hazy cloud of the early 90s.
I do miss those Pagan Holidays though. They were a lot of fun.
One day, I would like to write an ethnography about it.
In the meanwhile, I pass Christmas sleeping and answering a never-ending influx of questions about what I did for Christmas.
I will admit, however, that I was fortunate to attend two Christmas dinners and a holiday brunch this year.
I will also admit that I am considering embracing the North American Christmas celebrations to make life simpler and to free up room for New Year’s parties (I hear those are a lot of fun).
On January 7, our Christmas, Mom will make perigees and we will drink some wine. Being a family of three does not offer us the luxury of traditional celebrations.
I sleep through December like a child. I do not own a holiday sweater. I don’t fight people at the mall for red and green-colored napkins. I am a great chef but I do not know how to carve a turkey. I don’t like stuffing and I don’t eat gravy.
Yes, feel free to gasp.
If you invite me over for Christmas dinner, I will bring awesome gifts, eat your turkey (not the gravy) and pull the string on that candy-shaped thing that has fun and redundant little gifts in it.
I will smile, too.
Maybe next year, I will host a Christmas dinner.
But I will not be making a turkey and no one will have to wear an ugly sweater.
- by AWSC
- posted at 5:00 am
- January 2, 2012