For those who observe it, Christmas is the event on the calendar. Even if you yourself never go to church or are a profound unbeliever, it is hard getting around the festivities, family obligations, and food that demand attention. It’s the time of year when certain types of foods and behaviors are expected and when the word tradition gets bandied about.
It’s traditional that we do x, it’s traditional to have y, etc.
For me, it’s the time of year when I set aside 1-2 days for making tourtière, a meat pie native to Quebec. You must eat it at this time of year; otherwise the universe is just not right. Christmas (and sometimes New Year’s) would fail to happen without this holiday tradition.
But what makes something traditional? Is it the precise recreation of an object that your great-great-great-grandparents would have recognized? Is it the performance of a certain action or behavior? Or is it the observance or recognition of a past event long gone from everyday memory?