Kari Lilja, TkT, Erikoistutkija; Sirpa Sandelin, TkT, Yliopettaja
Christmas is coming, and people all-around the world are preparing to celebrate one of the biggest feasts in the Christian world. And even if someone were not interested in the Christian content of the season, holidays, Santa Claus, Rudolph, and Christmas songs create an atmosphere that is not so easy to resist. Presents, Christmas delicacies and the waiting for Santa are attracting kids also in families confessing other religions.
In Christmas season, both the international, national, and family traditions are important. And important are also the stories that transfer the traditions from one generation to another.
Before the Christmas season, there is a day that is celebrated in two huge countries by approximately 370 million people: In the United States, the fourth Thursday of November, and in Canada, the second Monday of October, the Thanksgiving Day, a national holiday, celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. In the USA, it is commonly believed that the origin of Thanksgiving is a heritage from a 1621 harvest feast shared by the English colonists of Plymouth and the native Americans who called themselves Wampanoag people. In Canada, the Day of Thanksgiving is said to be originated from year 1578, when an expedition of Martin Frobisher had a ceremony in a place, that is nowadays called Nunavut, to thank God for the safety of its fleet.
This holiday is particularly rich in traditions. Everyone in USA want to be at home with the whole family (At least two generations should be together) and the traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, bread stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, and pumpkin pie. However, every year, thousands of slaughtered turkeys remain unsold, and earlier, when the shops and butcheries did not have so effective freezers, these turkeys had to be sold as soon as possible after the holiday, thus, they must be sold as cheap as possible to avoid the huge mountain of decomposing meat.
The Black Friday was – according to one story – born.
One of my Canadian family members, living at Sault Ste Marie, close to the border of USA, used to drive every year just after the US Thanksgiving Day to the closest shop in the USA to buy cheap turkeys for the Christmas. These turkeys were then frozen in the freezer, and couple of them were defrosted just before the Christmas eve, filled with plums, rice, bacon, everything, and put in the oven, like Christmas ham in Finland. Rest of turkeys were eaten during the winter and spring.
Speaking about baking the ham, one lady told me several years ago that she used to roast a Christmas ham in the oven with open oven door. Year after year she did this until her daughter was old enough to wonder “Mother, why must you have the oven door open when you roast the ham?”. This lady answered first, that because her mother did it so, but stopped then to wonder. Yeah, why, indeed…. The mother was alive, thus, let’s ask her. The answer was exactly the same: Because in her home it was always done in that way… Lucky enough, the grandmother was still alive, thus, these three younger ladies went to the grand old lady and asked “Granma, why we always roast the ham in the oven with open oven door?”
Grandmother looked at the younger generations wondering, then she burst laughing. “Oh, my dear children, you are still doing the same, aren’t you. You see, in the residence where we lived at that time, there was a stove with such a small oven, that the ham did not have space enough unless the door was open…”
Traditions are worth preserving, but sometimes it is also good to question the traditions.
Merry Christmas to everyone!
This article was written in the framework of the DIG-CON, BA&VET and Sustainabuild-projects funded by the European Union’s Erasmus + program. The sole responsibility for the views expressed in this article lies with the authors.