I’ve just arrived back from experiencing Christmas and New Years of a different kind and it has left me wondering whether we as Australians are losing our identity and our historical sense of tradition?
Christmas this year for me was spent in Denmark on the opposite end of the world. It was cold and it was damp but none of that stopped the Danes from celebrating their wonderful traditions in the way they have for hundreds of years.
Here’s how traditions work over there. The day before Christmas Eve, which is their Christmas Day, the tree is decorated by the whole family, not just left to mum to put up on her own.
The morning of Christmas Eve, the kids wake up, everyone’s at home but there’s no bolting to the tree to see what Santa’s delivered, the kids must wait till after Christmas dinner. This was the only part of the process that I thought was a little tough.
Lunch on the day is not the big deal, it’s the dinner that’s the true Christmas affair, and I’m not religious but I enjoyed heading to church in the afternoon where many other families were together before heading home to begin the real festivities.
A quick dance around the tree holding hands with the family, singing songs I couldn’t understand was another tradition I’d never known. Another moment of proper family celebration.
A traditional Christmas dinner was had which ends in the kids finally allowed to run to the Christmas tree to see what Santa had left. I must admit, this is a true test of endurance for Danish kids but I guess they’ve never known the alternative that we have.
The following day, being the 25th and what they call their 2nd Christmas day is the opportunity to have another family meal and more time spent together. I love the fact that they stretch out the Christmas festivities rather than jamming it all into one day like we do over here.
Boxing Day is a holiday but few people are racing off on holiday as many of us do, tired, exhausted and stressed to get away. It’s yet another day that can be spent visiting more family or extending the time spent with those there.
On New Years Eve, many Danes spend the night as a family once again, with the main event on the schedule starting with everyone gathered around the TV, kids as well, to watch the Queen’s speech which is a very thoughtful and directive look at the year gone by, and what the Danes as a collective should consider improving for the New Year.
I couldn’t help but think how nice it was for a whole country to have the respect they seem to have for their Queen and the focus they have on celebrating being a Dane.
A kids party was organized for the little ones so they could enjoy the spirit of the night, including their own mini fireworks show before being bundled off to bed for the adults version got under way.
The kids aren’t simply removed on the night because everyone wants to get pissed; they’re treated with the same respect so they enjoy an exciting night, as they should.
Minutes before the clock chimes midnight, once again we all gathered around the TV to watch the celebrations unfolding in the city. Another tradition being that the Danes jump into the New Year, jumping literally off a chair, with positivity and hope, rather than skulling another bottle of beer before launching themselves at someone for a kiss.
I love Australia as most of us do, but I think we’re losing sight of tradition. I sometimes think that we use the excuse of our great weather as a reason just to sit outside and have another drink. Traditions are a healthy part of life and create memories for our kids that they deserve. And we as adults should enjoy a sense of patriotism that seems to be declining in the past years.