Thinking about Christmas6:08 PM
When is it ok to start planning for Christmas?
If you come from a culture where Christmas is no prevalent, or even absent, or is just considered a new fad you are probably snorting, rolling your eyes and thought a few insults, or silently expressed a bit of sarcasm toward those who actually really care about this festival be it in its Christian avatar, pagan, or secular/cultural way.
Go ahead, have your little laugh, right now, while you can. Then once you are done, I am going to ask you to pick up the one big massive festival that is key in your own culture.
How long in advance do you think about it? No really, how much time does it take you to plan the decor, parties, guests, foods, gifts?
Chances are you are starting to think about it weeks in advance.
I know we do for both Diwali and Christmas. If we happen to head to my in-laws for the festival of lights (which we didn't this year) we often start thinking about the dates months in advance in order to check how much the flight tickets will cost us. Then comes the gifts, and who gets what and in what budget.
If we stay home, like we did this year, there is always this anticipation as to when we can start putting the lights up on the balcony, or what insane amount of cleaning is looming over us.
But back to Christmas shall we?
If you haven't grown in a culture that TRUELY celebrates it as part of its heritage, chances are you think it is all just about putting a tree up, sharing foods and gifts on the 25th and be done with it.
Well it's pretty much what Christmas is in a nutshell anyway.
Except that no matter which form of it you choose to celebrate it is not going to be that simple.
You see, Christmas has been both a Christian and a Pagan festival for centuries. One celebrating the birth of the saviour and son of God, or the Winter solstice and the progressive return of light and brighter days.
I'll let you free to figure out which version of the festival you want to associate yourself to, I made myself very clear of where I stand on that matter in the past.
For a starter, no matter what you belief is, Christmas is a month long festival...no ifs no buts no nothing. The Christians refer to this period as the Advent which means the 4 Sundays BEFORE Christmas.
This year this First Advent will fall on November 27th, as you can see it falls almost a month before the actual Christmas day.
Advent is a latin word that translates into "coming" and for Christians it is a period of preparation and anticipation that leads to the main event on December 25th. Super religious people will go to Church every Sunday to the Advent service or mass, re-read the bible at home, and start decorating their home gradually.
The early Christians probably didn't invent this tradition, it is likely that the Advent grafted itself on the Winter Solstice festival preparation that were probably around a month long thing.
The core idea of this festival is to celebrate family ties, warmth, the return of light, love, joy...you get it, and this is something you build gradually overtime, it's a festival the depends on a great amount of momentum.
So, really when do you really need to start thinking about Christmas?
With all of that above, let me assure you that people starting to talk about decorations, holiday recipes in November is not that crazy. And yes, I am finding myself planning things as of now.
Be it the Advent Calendar, or when to start making my batches of Zimtsterne or Milano cookie dough for the freezer (and not loose my mind in December). Or when to plan a Holiday themed craft session with my friends (very important way to bring the festival alive for expats in India).
As a blogger, it is even more important to start that process early, as no Christmas celebrating souls will want to see all of the craft projects and recipe popping out a week or two before Christmas.
If you live in Europe and US chances is that by the time December rolls in you are going to already be booked solid the whole month in a whirlwind of parties, events, recitals, gathering and shopping trips.
I first noticed how essential it was to actually make time to truly appreciate the Holiday when it actually came last year.
My answer to the vital question about when to starting thinking about Christmas is :
As early as you need to in order to feel happy and non-stressed in December.
For me, with my blog, my friends and life in general, this means NOW. Don't be surprised if from now on a lot of my blog posts will give you a glimpse of chocolate, cinnamon, red white and green and jingle bells.
The Advent is coming, the social gatherings are going to start lining up, and like a good wine, the "Expat in India" version of my holiday gets better and better with each passing years.