In Denmark its tradition to get a Christmas tree, and after dinner, before we open our presents we sing a bunch of Christmas songs, and while we are singing the whole family/friends, whoever, hold hands and dance around the tree.
I learnt it at Christmas when I was really small, from my parents and the rest of the family, and I like it very much because its cozy and it brings everyone together, drifts attention from solely opening presents, which is purely materialistic. It means a lot to me, family bonding time.
Eva talked very fondly of this Christmas experience in Denmark. She says she does it every year, though until now she has spent most of her Christmases in Rome, Italy. Though she was not surrounded by Danish experiences when younger, she says keeping traditions like this is what, she feels, makes her an authentic Danish person. Considering my experience with Danish people, I am not surprised that their traditions involve singing and dancing around. From the ones I have met, I find that Danish people are friendly, outgoing, and very fun loving. Evas family has almost become my family, and so I was extremely happy when I got to spend Christmas with them this past year. Experiencing this tradition first hand I couldnt help but feel engulfed by both Christmas spirit and pure joy. I think that by holding hands you truly embrace the meaning of unity during Christmas, as well as the importance of family. By singing it shows the true symbolism of celebrating Christmas, which is of course celebrating the birth of Jesus. Considering that it is dancing around a tree, I see a little paganism in it. However I dont know enough about the actual Christmas holiday versus Denmarks pagan influences to decide whether it is part of Christmas that is perhaps more Pagan than Christian or whether it is this tradition that is perhaps more Pagan than Christian.
I was impressed by Evas insight regarding this tradition as drifting attention from the materialistic part, as sometimes I feel that for many children, Christmas tree equals presents, and here is a tradition, happily practiced since childhood, that adds another role to this beautiful tree, and this is a purely spiritual one, the togetherness.
This tradition is mentioned in a book, a journal of European Ethnology.
Pedersen, Marriane H. “Making Traditions in a New Society.” Ethnologia Europaea. Museum Tusculanum, 2007. 7. Web. 26 Apr. 2011.