Christmas traditions have become part of many peoples’ December activities throughout the world.
The “12 Days of Christmas” is a large European Christian tradition dating back to the middles ages. The tradition marks the time between the Savior’s birth and the three wise men’s arrival.
The “12 days of Christmas” originally went from December 25th until January 6th. Each day, adults and children celebrated the Savior’s birth by doing things that reminded them of Him.
Throughout the ages, the order of events has reversed, and now families celebrate the 12 days before Christmas.
There are several ways to celebrate the Lord’s birth and invite his Spirit to our homes and families, such as the following:
1. Celebrate loudly
Matthew Tanner, a BYU-I alumnus and a teacher at Madison Middle School, wears a Santa hat each day for work, every year right after Halloween.
“The way I invite the Christmas spirit is through celebrating it loudly,” Tanner said. “Most mornings, I am blasting Christmas music from my classroom speakers. I also decorate my classroom and the hallway bulletin with tons of Christmas decor.”
2. Share Christmas stories
“I always share uplifting and inspiring Christmas stories,” said Tanner. “I also share some of the old claymation holiday favorites if I ever have extra class time.”
Make a list of the most meaningful tales and keep the Christmas spirit at heart, one story at a time.
3. Watch an old classic
Let carols fill the room by turning on old Christmas movies.
“No matter how little time I have, I guarantee to watch the old cartoon version of the Grinch in the last week of school with my students, since it is my personal favorite,” Tanner said.
4. Decorate a plant with miscellaneous objects
When Hayden Allen, a freshman studying political science, was on his mission in North Dakota, he and his companion hit a low moment where they felt home-sick and discouraged just before Christmas day.
“We decided we needed to get into the Christmas spirit, so we went and scavenged strange ornaments from around our apartment to decorate a fake plant,” Allen said.
As Allen and his companion started college and roomed together, they found themselves in the same situation when the snow started to fall and exams were around the corner. Their solution was to decorate a plant with ornaments.
“We decided to recreate our tradition and it definitely got us back into the spirit of the holidays.”
5. Share cookies and carols
The Savior’s teachings can be remembered during the Christmas season through sharing time, love and food with others.
Elizabeth Hampton, a senior majoring in marriage and family studies, said, “Growing up, my family had a tradition of making Christmas goodies and putting together plates to deliver to our neighbors while we sang Christmas carols.”
6. Light the World
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started a 25-day long Christmas campaign called “Light the World.”
Families and students join in to remember the Savior and connect with loved ones living far away.
“The last couple of years we have done ‘Light the World,’” said Laura Morrin, the wife of a faculty member. “It’s been really fun as it reaches extended family who no longer live with us.”
7. Find ancient traditions
Diversify this year’s activities while discovering what the past generations used to do to celebrate their holidays.
“Several years ago, I had the idea to look at the Christmas traditions of my ancestors who came from a large number of other cultures,” said Heather Cromar, a family history faculty member. “I incorporated some of those traditions in our celebrations as a way to teach my children a bit about their heritage.”
8. Prepare a cultural dinner
Cromar found variety, fun and new skills while searching for foods people eat to celebrate their Christmas in different countries.
“Many cultural dinners are now a permanent part of our December each year,” Cromar said. “Some of our family’s favorites are the Syrian Mezze (a feast of little dishes or appetizers), the Swedish Julboard (a meat-heavy feast appreciated by the men in the family), and the Dutch Gourmetten (little mini-indoor grilling).”
9. Make homemade gifts
“I think one of the things our kids liked the most was planning, making and giving homemade gifts to each other,” said Saralynn Allen, a faculty member’s wife. “They each made really special things that their siblings loved.”
10. Spend time with others
“Just spending a lot of time together cooking, decorating and playing games brings us closer and helps us feel the Christmas spirit,” Allen said.
11. Read Christmas Stories
“Our favorite tradition is to read the Christmas story from the New Testament and Book of Mormon while incorporating the songs,” said Morrin. “We usually do it on Christmas Eve, but sometimes we do it on the Sunday before. We also enjoy reading other uplifting Christmas stories.”
Find a favorite story and get inspired.
12. Decorate with nativities
The meaning of Christmas can be shown through nativity scenes.
“One year I put up different nativities under the tree instead of presents to help keep us focused more on the true meaning of Christmas,” said Jennifer Judd, a junior studying business management.
The 12 days of Christmas can define how joyful the holidays will be.