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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion editorial

EDITORIAL: Consider the roots of popular traditions

People dress up as demonic followers of Krampus, the "Bad Santa," during the 2014 Krampus parade in downtown Bloomington. The creatures walked down Madison Street and taunted people wearing "Naughty" stickers.

Holidays are a lot weirder than you would expect.

Sure, we have heard of things like Krampus, everyone’s favorite horned demon out to punish children.

Typically, though, the holidays are reserved as a time for us to share in cheer and joy and peace on earth — all kinds of happy stuff like that.

But when you think about the holiday season, what do you think of?

Do you think of gift-giving and spending time with family or celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

There are more than the average December holiday traditions, though.

Many of our traditions stem from the old traditions of early Christianity. Christmas was a celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth and the idea of giving gifts for Christ came from the Three Kings bringing gifts to baby Jesus’ manger all those years ago.

Another origin of gift-giving comes from the pagan tradition of reminding children that any day they too could be a human sacrifice.

Brutal, right?

Sometimes we forget our history was very grim and things were pretty barbaric for quite some time.

For example, the image we have of creating a gingerbread house with our sweet grandmas didn’t exist. Instead, the gingerbread house came from a story involving cannibalism.

The Grimm fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel involved gingerbread houses and eating children, and for some reason, our modern-day society decided to incorporate these evil houses into our holiday culture.

A tradition that families and couples partake in is the kiss under the mistletoe game that older members of the family will use to trick young people into kissing. As a child, we all cringed and stuck our tongues out when we had to kiss a relative. As an adult, it caused us to sweat and look around the room for an opportunity not to kiss the only non-relative present.

Fun fact: Mistletoe is actually a parasitic plant. Some kind of metaphor we were trying to make about 
love, huh?

Now, there are more innocent traditions among families of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds.

Some families hide pickles in their trees for kids to find. Other families move a creepy-looking elf around the house to surprise — that is to say, scare — their kids.

The holiday season is still kind of barbaric in some ways. Moms will trample each other in order to get the most sought-after gift. We cut down trees just to have them decorated for a month. Parents will put their infants in a diaper then in a manger in dangerously cold temperatures to recreate the birth of Christ.

There’s nothing like the holidays to bring out the most bizarre in people. Some people love harder than they have all year, others are terribly depressed due to lack of family.

Whatever traditions you uphold with your family, just remember where they came from and where they are headed.

Who knows, maybe in the next decade we will be writing about how the holiday season is the second wave of Halloween because we didn’t get enough the first time around.

Those elves are so scary.

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