As today’ Sunday marks the second advent one can say without doubt that the Christmas season is now in full swing and no excuse is needed to listen to the same guilty-pleasure Christmas songs all over again. Feel free to put one on now if you want to.
Enough of silly song though; for many - myself included - this past week has been full of celebrations, from ‘Krampusnacht’ in Austria happening on the 5th of December to Sinterklaas being celebrated on the same day in the Netherlands and advent wreaths being decorated everywhere, there is a multitude of different festivities and traditions taking place reaching far beyond the numerous Christmas markets that decorate many European cities. Based on my personal bubble, experiences and cultural heritage the time surrounding Christmas is usually seen as a time full of magic and ‘gezelligheid’ among loved ones. If you are privileged like me, you might also associate this time of year with the warm fuzzy feeling of love. While it is a time full of joy for many this is not everyone’s reality.
Just as with every other celebration, how one feels about the Christmas season ultimately depends on one’s background and experiences and is not universal. Despite popular belief, many individuals feel especially lonely in December as the festive season also comes with many (social) expectations and opportunities to compare oneself and one’s relationships to those of others. What may also play into this is that many around us also mourn the fact that they are not able to spend the holidays with a loved one either due to them having passed away or for other reasons, making this ‘joyful’ time more challenging for them.
Following the above, it is also important to acknowledge that although the media often portrays it as such, not everyone celebrates Christmas: While for some the day starts with opening the door of one of many advent calendars, others just start into their days like every other day of the year.
In a way, having certainty that these weeks in December will feel magical and cozy, can be seen as a privilege that is not accessible to everyone for various reasons. The point I am trying to make is that one should refrain from projecting one’s feelings and experiences onto others during this time of year as the person next to one might experience a completely different reality than oneself.
Having discussed how one’s privilege and experiences influence one’s opinion on the time before (and after) Christmas, I hope to motivate everyone who reads this to show some extra kindness and joy to the people around you in the upcoming week as you never know what challenges they might be facing in private.
If you don’t know how to start small: I dare you to smile at a stranger on the street - you might have a big positive impact on someone’s day!