Birthday traditions are a favorite of mine, and my birthday is inching closer. Saturday is only three days away. I’m considering starting a new tradition this year, provided the weather cooperates. I want to take a group of friends to the Sundial Restaurant and Bar on 72nd floor of the Weston Peachtree Plaza Hotel where the restaurant revolves. We’ll get to see metro-Atlanta in all it lighted Christmas glory. I think it’s a great way to end my day of birthday celebrating. Want to come along?
My birthday doesn’t get lost in the tsunami of our biggest cultural celebration–Christmas–because highlighting December 24th as my birthday is part of my family’s tradition. I get to have a special day to celebrate my life as if it were not mixed in with Christmas. Yet, my birthday is so much fun due to the splendors of the holiday season. The only day that might compare is the Fourth of July where fireworks symbolize freedom.
As Americans celebrating the holiday season, local traditions and family ones overlay the universals. In general, we decorate a tree and give presents. In different parts of the country, local flavor brightens the yuletide, like along the southern coastal states where Santa arrives by boat at the end of a lighted boat parade. As for family traditions, they’re like snowflakes, very individualized.
But, what is a tradition? Are they good? Or possibly harmful? Every year the debate rages about what’s naughty and nice when it comes to holiday traditions.
Yet, traditions blanket our beliefs, our conventions, and dare I say our created mythology? My limited study has shown me how far-reaching customs are in America, and I find it fascinating to catch a glimpse of our cultural traditions through the eyes of others from cultures different from ours. For example, when I was in college, a Japanese student came to me just before a holiday party and asked me, with utter sincerity, why Santa Claus wasn’t in the Bible. I sat with him for several hours and talked it out. I learned that my knowledge of “why” was inadequate for me, though he nodded his head and appeared to come away from our conversation somehow enlightened.
Another example: While working in corporate America, I attended a company finance seminar in October just before our November elections. The man sitting next me, a Canadian who worked in our company’s Canadian office, commented that our political campaigning process was different from theirs. In Canada, he explained, debates are heated; however, television and radio advertising is polite, in contrast to America where our debates are very polite, but television and radio are mud-slinging events.
I’m going to looking at the ‘why’ of traditions throughout 2012. I think it will be an interesting and enlightening journey. What do you think?
What is your definition for tradition? What traditions do you keep and which ones do you want to create to have a richer fuller life?
Happy Birthday to me and Happy Holidays to all!
(Photo was taken from: http://www.sundialrestaurant.com/)