BERLIN — One of the great Christmas myths is that traditions have to be inherited. At first, the term tradition seems to demand that whatever the holiday practice happens to be it must have always been. This, of course, cannot be true.
Traditions are inaugurated by families, individuals and cultures all the time. In the case of family tradition in often has to do with a person suggesting the family try out some new practice and that practice becoming part of the way the season is celebrated.
In the end, traditions are about making the general more specific. They are a family’s or a culture’s attempt to distinguish themselves in a way that says they are participating in the wider celebration but that they have something to bring to the table that is particular to them.
Traditions are also something a group can begin to recognize even though they did not originate it. They can see the sentimental value in the practice of someone else and begin to consider how it might apply in their case.
Adopting a practice is the way traditions come to spread, be recognized and eventually become such a significant part of a particular celebration that it seems to have always bee their. Indeed, after a generation or so it might seem odd that a practice hasn’t been followed since time immemorial.
It was in that spirit, for example, that a company began the practice of dipping live roses into gold to produce a gift that could last well beyond when a rose would normally tend to fade. The initial idea was that the rose could be a gift appropriate for any time of the year.
More recently, however, it has been incorporated into a slightly different form. By redesigning the gold dipped rose to coincide with an old Christmas poem, the makers were able to start a new tradition from two older ones.
The redesign was based on a 15th Century German poem that told the story of a young girl who was weeping because she wasn’t able to afford a present as fine as those brought to the Christ Child by the Magi. Taking pity on her, and angel set a rosebush to grow so the girl would have a gift appropriate to the Christ child.
The gold-dipped roses are lacquered to match the “red and cream roses” that bloomed upon the bush.
At the Treasure Chest, where the Real Rose is for sale, the rose comes with a card that tells the story and authenticates the rose as having been real as well as with Swarovski crystal earrings and a small box of Russell Stover Chocolates.
For people who are interested in adding a tradition aimed at their children, the Elf on the Shelf has become an increasingly popular tradition to which families can continue to subscribe.
The “elf” from Elf on the Shelf is billed as a scout for Santa Clause. He or she is named and placed in an inconspicuous place so the elf can observe goings on as they relate to naughtiness or niceness. The elf flies back to the North Pole each evening, according to legend, to report on the family and hear stories from the other elves all over the world.
Each morning the elf returns but in a different place so that by the time Christmas Eve comes around the elf has made a thorough report.
The Elf on a Shelf kit is available for purchase at several Berlin shops including TaDa, and Victorian Charm. It is also available at Christmas Pointe in West Ocean City.