Christmas spirt rings differently in Europe


Hunter Miller

Christmas means something different to everyone, but in Europe traditions are drastically different than in the U.S.

Claire Peralta, Staff Reporter

The twinkling lights of festive homes and the soft light of the manger in which the baby Jesus was born are slowly being outshone by the harsh lights of Wal-Mart and Toys-R-Us. It seems as though societies around the world, especially America, are redirecting their focus to the brighter lights of stores and their material possessions rather than focusing on spending quality time with loved ones and celebrating the birth of the Baby Jesus on Christmas. Over recent centuries societies have begun to transform this holiday into yet another commercial opportunity for card companies and toy manufacturers to take advantage of.

American Christmas is a unique mix of traditions taken from our ancestors, with the German Christmas tree, the Dutch Christmas cookie, and the British Christmas card being a few. On top of all of these traditions, Americans have created so many new shopping expectations that further tarnish what should be the true spirit of Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for giving and receiving presents, I’m a teenage girl, but material goods are not what the holiday should be centered around.

The experience while driving through towns decked out for Christmas in the U.S. and towns in Europe are completely different. Not an inflatable snowman is in sight in front of the many homes passed on the streets of Europe, nor are houses unrecognizable from the sheer amount of lights upon them. Instead of focusing on giving the most presents, or having the biggest, brightest decorations, the idea of Christmas is more focused on family and friends.

The widespread tradition of Christmas markets, originating in Germany, were created to celebrate the four weeks of advent. Today, these “Christkindlmarkts”, or Christmas markets epitomize what the holiday should be about. They offer food, drinks, locally made items for the season, singing and dancing, and often fun seasonal activities such as ice skating for families and friends to enjoy while celebrating the Christmas season together. Appreciating the holiday while spending it with your friends and family? Europeans have the right idea.

The idea of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus with your friends and family, not to outshine your neighbor’s lights, nor to spend money on buying presents. Somewhere along the way, America has lost that idea. Embrace your traditions, enjoy the company of your family and your friends, and be thankful for what you have.