Whoever first came up with the idea of having a ritual based on light in the middle of December’s dark days, had to have lived in the Northern Hemisphere. The people in the southern half of the world had no reason for a festival in December.
No surprise then, when we needed to find out where he lived, Santa Claus was discovered to be in the North Pole, not the South Pole where there would be more daylight hours to get the job done.
Christmas, especially for adults, is based on what happened back then. It is slightly different if you have children of your own. You begin to create a new round of rituals; a combination of the parts of your past which you don’t want to let go added to those of your partner, who is equally attached to their own traditions.
Comfort and nostalgia
We find comfort in tradition. It reminds us things aren’t so very different. It puts us back into a place where the world is safe and there are things you can rely on.
We love the smell of the tree, the taste of the special foods we get to eat and above all we spend time with those we love – sometimes a mixed blessing if we are honest.
Change rules everywhere
Of course, it is all a smokescreen. Christmas has changed just like everything else. If you don’t believe it, ask the Post Office. In 2002, 10 Christmas (holiday) cards were sent for every person including children in the U.S. That figure is now less than half the number per person, and it is dropping.
The number of cards sent stands around 1.4 billion in the U.S. so it is still a sizeable market, and we can be sure the USPS will evolve.
A couple of hundred years ago they would perform small tasks for ranchers who needed to be away from home for a while. Those days are gone too.
If anything, the Christmas Card has become a little more exclusive
You can say it faster on Facebook, you can use Instagram for your family image, but it seems the people to whom we send cards are the ones who are special to us.
People who in the past would send out cards to as many people as they knew now are sending them to the people who really matter.
They are also more likely to be older. This is not something that children are doing. As a point of comparison there are 3,000 card manufacturers in the U.S. and of all the cards they create collectively, 60% of them are Christmas Cards.
This is an industry sector which will suffer if we stop sending cards.
Will we miss them?
Probably not. Do we miss getting hand-written letters from our friends? Not really because it is more satisfying to hear from loved ones on a more regular basis. But don’t despair – 670 billion postcards are sent every year.