Gransnet forums


Is cultural tradition overrated?

(74 Posts)
PECS Sat 13-Oct-18 13:34:25

Sometimes I have heard people voice their worries that "we" are losing "our" culture and traditions.

I was just wondering if it matters. My thinking was sparked by discussion elsewhere about Christmas decorations.

Traditionally the Christmas festival is 12 days, Easter 4 days then there are various other festivals: Patron Saints days, May day, All Hallows Eve & All Saints Day and various associated customs and activities etc.

Many were originally pagan (e.g. Wassialing/Carol singing), adopted by Christianity and now taken over by the commercial world.

Traditional music and dance seem to have lost a place in everyday life.. but does it matter?

Does it matter that hot x buns are eaten all year round? That Christmas pudding is ditched in favour of a swiss roll and ice cream? That hallowe'en has become overly focussed on trick or treating (guising) and Maypole dancing is now frowned upon now we realise a Maypole was phallic [grin}

Locally we have Morris dancing, mummers, town bonfire & processions, Carol Service and switching on of town Christmas lights so I don't feel bereft! But what do others think? Is cultural tradition overated?

lemongrove Sat 13-Oct-18 13:43:31

They mark the Seasons and become part of the calendar.
Our DGS sets great store by all the traditions, possibly most Children do, more than adults.
Other countries keep their culture and traditions alive, and we should to although am in favour of hot cross buns all year round.grin

PECS Sat 13-Oct-18 13:59:43

Ahh.. there we differ lemon I love a hot cross bun and mince pies but I am a bit of a "dog in a manger" and refuse to buy them until it is ' the season' for them and grumble at DH if he sneaks them in too soon! if we eat them all year or too often they are no longer 'traditionally' eaten at Christmas/Easter!

lemongrove Sat 13-Oct-18 14:03:50

True! I just like them ( a lot.) tchsmile

Baggs Sat 13-Oct-18 14:15:03

I don't feel that much of it matters even if the commercialisation is over the top, which it is. One can ignore a lot of that. Trick or Treat is essentially blackmail so I do object to that.

SueDonim Sat 13-Oct-18 14:18:20

My Dh loves Cadburys Creme eggs and each year he lurks, ready to pounce on the early crop which is usually in store around Christmas. Three years ago I spotted newly laid ones in a shop in the third week in December, appropriately in Egham in Surrey, and bought him a couple. He ate them there and there, not bothering to wait until Easter. grin

It would be a shame, though, if everything became the same as everything else as I think it's nice to have different things to look forward to.

paddyann Sat 13-Oct-18 14:19:49

its always been guising in Scotland as far back as my GGm and further as far as I'm aware .Kids here still expect to sing a song or recite a poem or tell a joke and then get their reward .We dont get many who say "trick or treat" usually its "the sky is blue the grass is green what do you have for my halloween" ,same as I said when I was wee .Locally its called the Gloshes .

BBbevan Sat 13-Oct-18 14:21:38

When I was young there was not a season for hot cross buns. All the shops were closed on Good Friday except the bakers. It was a real treat to go there to buy the buns. At Harvest Festival the baker also made an enormous bread wheat sheaf, complete with mouse. This was given to the church. Because we did not have, or see these things all year round, they were special.

sodapop Sat 13-Oct-18 14:36:56

I agree BBbevan I like having things in season, gives me something to look forward to.
I suppose its inevitable that customs will change and new ones evolve. I think it would be a shame to lose things like cheese rolling, Morris dancing etc.

Jalima1108 Sat 13-Oct-18 14:44:03

Is cultural tradition overated?
No - as long as commercialism does not take over.
We have just been to a country with a very long history and traditions which are still kept alive. Dancing, their food and their awareness of their history - all a matter of great pride and a great tourist attraction too, so bringing in much needed money by visitors to the country.

Jalima1108 Sat 13-Oct-18 14:46:29

We've been practising songs for harvest festival today (but not 'We Plough the Fields and Scatter' - apparently superseded by 'fun' songs).

PECS Sat 13-Oct-18 14:53:59

BBevan Exactly my perspective! My mum used to get up early to finish baking Hot X buns. She would have done the prep late on Maundy Thursday and then get up to get them in the oven in time for breakfast.

Jalima1108 Sat 13-Oct-18 15:08:41

Even after we were married I remember the shops being shut on Good Friday - apart from the village baker's which made lovely hot cross buns.

I have made them (once grin)

SueDonim Sat 13-Oct-18 15:15:02

Ha, I'm a once-only hot cross bun maker, too, Jalima. grin

As a child I used to dread Easter. Shops and everything else shut on Friday, open on Sat morning for the ritual dash out for more bread, everything closed on Sunday, everything closed on Monday and my mother in a four-day bad mood, coping with four children and her grumpy father, plus my dad who didn't like any change in routine.

It was actually okay if the weather was good but if it was a cold, wet Easter it was misery! I'm not sure even the eggs made up for that.

BBbevan Sat 13-Oct-18 15:33:43

I made hot cross buns once. We cobbled the path with them 😁

oldbatty Sat 13-Oct-18 16:57:24

What is cultural tradition?

Jalima1108 Sat 13-Oct-18 17:54:28

Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts.

'Cultural Tradition'
The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication: cultural practices that are preserved by tradition.

My hot cross buns were very nice BBbevan (thought I say it myself wink). The problem was that I made about 3 dozen of them!

Baggs Sat 13-Oct-18 17:56:44

Bbevan 😁😁😁

We did the same with some of my sister's parkin once. Couldn't even cut it with a saw!

Jalima1108 Sat 13-Oct-18 17:57:35

sounds like my gf pastry!
The problem is that it is not at all traditional.
although the mincemeat filling is.

mokryna Sun 14-Oct-18 09:22:39

Where is Guy Fawkes in your list? Has that been forgotten for Trick and Treat which we never did when I was a child.

sluttygran Sun 14-Oct-18 09:28:35

Christmas is a twelve day festival? Well I never!
It seems to begin at the end of August each year, and carries on through the January sales, finally retiring in time for the Valentine’s Day commercial shindig.
Bah humbug!
Actually I love Christmas, but won’t acknowledge it until late November.

PECS Sun 14-Oct-18 09:31:39

Just forgot to put it in! And I have a special soft spot for Nov 5th.. Met my DH at a firework party!!
We always celebrated Halloween..though did not trick or treat.. but a similar guising tradition in some areas of UK.

Saggi Sun 14-Oct-18 09:31:45

Not religious at all but I like to keep the different celebrations as separate as possible. I could scream at people who put Christmas secs up before December ( I put them up last week before the DAY). Why spoil the expectation, I agree with a previous poster x buns...all year round please.

PECS Sun 14-Oct-18 09:34:04

slutty That is part of the reason for me starting this thread! I hate the extension of some festivals because ,for me, it diminishes them.

oldbatty Sun 14-Oct-18 09:37:40

Isn't culture constantly shifting and changing ? I like the craziness of it sometimes.

lovebeigecardigans1955 Sun 14-Oct-18 09:41:15

If we ate hot cross buns, roast turkey and mince pies all year round then they're not special anymore, are they?
Are we perhaps more self-indulgent these days and can't wait for things anymore? The 'I want it now' syndrome perhaps?

4allweknow Sun 14-Oct-18 09:43:24

Guy Fawkes, should that be added to culture, tradition? When looking at the history of this celebration I cringe at us celebrating an attempted murder. Why people of Scotland acknowledge the event I'll never know as their King was the target. I lived in London in 70s and even then the bakers only produced HXB on Good Friday. It's the profit motive that is diluting culture and traditions by extending the length of the celebration, we are fed up by the time the actual particular event arrives.

mokryna Sun 14-Oct-18 09:43:39

When did Trick and Treating start in England, I have been away so long? Has Guy Fawkes been overtaken by it?

PECS Sun 14-Oct-18 09:45:09

oldbatty yes of course culture evolves.. what I am asking is does it matter if "traditions' based on cultural heritage are lost or diluted? Do we need them? I am genuinely asking!

oldbatty Sun 14-Oct-18 09:46:14

mmm thought provoking stuff indeed.

sarahellenwhitney Sun 14-Oct-18 10:06:48

As, which my friend hmmcalls me. a miserable old git who refuses to break with tradition, I get no pleasure in eating hot cross buns, simnel cake other than at Easter or mince pies at xmas I have many happy memories of Easter Sunday tea at my grandmothers with toasted hot cross buns followed by slices of simnel cake and visiting relatives at xmas where we indulged in hot mince pies and glasses of ginger wine.The latter I was allowed the occasional sip.

Anniebach Sun 14-Oct-18 10:10:58

Christian festivals mean much to me , hot cross buns , Easter eggs, Christmas trees are not the centre of these festivals, but they are links with those who have gone before us.

starbox Sun 14-Oct-18 10:18:53

I don't suppose it MATTERS in the grand scheme of things - you could live an entirely adequate life with no festivals etc at all. Just like it doesn't MATTER if a language dies out; or if a certain obscure animal becomes extinct.
But I do think it's a shame and a loss of human heritage. There IS something quaint, magical, historical about Morris Dancers, maypoles etc. Just like we love experiencing the strange celebrations in exotic countries!

Barmeyoldbat Sun 14-Oct-18 10:39:11

I went to a children's Christmas Service with gc and they sang songs like The Camels got a Hump! Wasn't impressed so didn't go again. I enjoy the different festivals but not the massive lead up to them and I so glad that Easter is now more of a holiday than the gloom and doom it was. Everywhere closed, dad in his chair smoking his pipe and mum going up the wall with 4 bored children.

pixie601 Sun 14-Oct-18 10:41:55

The reason our cultural traditions seem to spread too far is purely and simply to make money, If we only bought and celebrated within the season itself maybe it would slow things down - the answer is in the hands of the consumer.

Jalima1108 Sun 14-Oct-18 10:46:56

I hate the extension of some festivals because ,for me, it diminishes them.
The same thing seems to have happened with other 'celebrations' such as hen/stag parties, birthdays etc - they extend over weekends, particularly with the younger generations.
ie 'it's his birthday weekend' which is apparently from Friday until Monday! confused - no, his 'birthday' is on Saturday.

Hm999 Sun 14-Oct-18 10:48:57

I love the idea that children today do the things my grandparents did when small (like carols and pancakes), but there are bits I dislike. Eating the big Easter eggs before Easter Sunday is one, and those Advent calendars with chocolate or little presents inside. Because of technology, if ever there was a generation that need to be taught a little patience... I suppose I want the children to know the stories behind the traditions, both national and international.

knickas63 Sun 14-Oct-18 10:52:08

I think they are very important and part of who we are. A lot of our tradions are seasonal, as well as religious. I tried to keep them up with my kids, and now with the grandchildren. Things were only eaten a certain times due to seasonal availability, and in this over commercials, eco,logically compromised world it isn't a bad thing to encourage.

knickas63 Sun 14-Oct-18 11:02:37

We do always try to find firework displays on or as near to Nov 5th as possible. This particular tradition is definitely being faded into Halloween. We do both! I have always celebrated Halloween with Swede carving (No pumpkins when I was small) lanterns and ghost stories. It is now one of my family favourites. Halloween party at ours every year. Bonfire night if not at a display, we have a bonfire, small garden fireworks, soup, jacket potatoes and hot dogs. Always with memories of my father, a biscuit tin of fireworks, leaning in to get one with a few in his mouth!

mabon1 Sun 14-Oct-18 11:02:56

They are part of our Welsh, English, Scotish and Irish way of life and certainly worth keeping.

knickas63 Sun 14-Oct-18 11:04:48

*fag in is mouth! Damn autocorrect

youngagain Sun 14-Oct-18 11:23:30

Does anyone remember Halloween as being 'ducking apple night'? I was brought up in South Wales and we used to have a bowl of water with apples in and we had to 'catch' an apple with our mouth/teeth and our hands had to be behind our backs. We also had apples suspended on string from the tops of doorways and again, with hands behind our backs, we had to catch the apple in our teeth/mouth. We didn't have 'trick or treat' and actually had never heard of it when we were kids. When did this become the norm in the UK?

Anniebach Sun 14-Oct-18 11:26:47

I so remember ‘ducking Apple night’ loved it. Not when the apple on the string swung back and hit me though

BBbevan Sun 14-Oct-18 11:40:09

Yes I remember ' ducking apple' We had toffee apples to eat also

icanhandthemback Sun 14-Oct-18 12:02:57

Jalima1108, a woman after my own heart. My DH has always talked about his Birthday week which I have strongly resisted especially as he seems to change when the week begins or ends so we could easily end up as a Birthday Fortnight. Occasionally though, I use the Birthday Week to my own ends...but only when it is my Birthday!
I prefer traditions to remain undiluted. It makes them far more special. One of the sad things I think about the EU is that many of the places we used to visit gave us an exciting array of food to try or goods to ogle but, apart from them selling things in different sorts of shops, nothing is novel any more.

ajanela Sun 14-Oct-18 12:09:57

I thought Halloween was promoted as guy fawkes night caused so many nasty accidents due to fireworks and bonfires.

Yes we need to celebrate special days but we need to know the meaning behind the day.

Ireland, Wales and Scotland celebrate there days and I think England needs to celebrate St George's day.

It seems to be very popular to celebrate this Queens special anniversaries which is lovely,

Will we be celebrating Brexit day?

Legs55 Sun 14-Oct-18 12:17:57

I remember shops being shut Good Friday except our lovely Baker's (this was in the late 70s/early 80s), had to either order or get in there early for Hot Cross Buns, I still don't have them until Good Friday & I adore them .

Halloween was a huge tradition as I lived near to Pendle Hill & all the links to the Lancashire Witches - no trick or treat but often parties with apple bobbing etc

November 4th was Mischief Night, small usually harmless pranks followed by Bonfire Night on 5th November.

Christmas starts no earlier than 1st December (except cards are written ready for posting) despite delicious Mince Pies in the shops now

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, always make pancakes on the day

Brings us back to Easter. I love keeping to the traditions but also willing to embrace other cultural traditions

gerry86 Sun 14-Oct-18 13:44:49

I think shops are a lot to blame, as soon as Christmas is over there are Easter Eggs on the shelves with valentine's day squeezed in between and it goes on from there.

jocork Sun 14-Oct-18 13:45:14

I live in a very multicultural town so there seems to always be some festival or other going on. When we first moved here from a very 'English' market town I couldn't believe how often there were firework displays going on. Consequently I think some of our festivals and traditions disappear in the confusion of all the other celebrations. As for only eating certain foods at the 'correct' time of year, if we did that we'd never get mince pies on Christmas day as it is illegal to eat them that day due to an ancient law from Oliver Cromwell's time which has never been repealed - although some people dispute this! Personally I love mince pies and often eat them at the wrong time if they are available, as I do to a lesser extent with hot x buns. My ex H loved Christmas pudding so much that I always filled the larder with them whenever they were available, especially if reduced after the festivities, so we could have Christmas pudding for Sunday lunch for most of the year! Nowadays I only eat it on Christmas day and maybe boxing day if there are leftovers.

tickingbird Sun 14-Oct-18 14:31:54

I must admit i abhor trick or treat as it is blackmail and i just dread it. Other traditions i love although Christmas has become so commercialised it’s ruined it really.

Greta Sun 14-Oct-18 14:37:41

I do believe traditions matter. They provide structure which I think we need. I don't like Christmas starting at the end of August but I'm sure we all know how this has come about: Money. Also, it seems to me that whatever we do nowadays it must be fun and noisy, sometimes bordering on the hysterical. And of course, we must have what we want and we must have it now.

We are approaching All Hallows' Eve. I really like the way families in Sweden mark this by going to their cemeteries and lighting candles for their loved ones. A time to quietly reflect and remember.

This is worth watching:

Bridgeit Sun 14-Oct-18 17:42:31

I think Life would be very dull without all the occasions , festivals & traditions, they bring people together & children learn about all the different & varied cultures etc with open minds

Marianne1953 Sun 14-Oct-18 17:59:03

No it doesn’t matter and a lot of people don’t care if they eat hot cross buns etc all year round, however, if they are eaten all year round, then they are not special anymore and to me that’s part of the excitement of these occasions is having things you don’t eat etc all year round.

Bridgeit Sun 14-Oct-18 18:06:10

Yes good point Marianne1953, there is nothing quite like a special treat.

MagicWriter2016 Sun 14-Oct-18 18:50:46

I think they do matter as they are part of our history, but I do hate the fact that they have mainly been reduced to commercialism. As a child we were very poor, but each of the occasions was looked upon with real excitement, not just because you wanted new toys or loads of Easter eggs. They always signified something, even though we were never religious. Easter was exciting as you would usually get a new frock or some sort of clothing and it meant that summer was just round the corner. You got to paint eggs and take them to roll down the nearest hill. I honestly don’t remember getting any chocolate Easter eggs, but am sure we did. May was the maypole dancing. Guy Fawkes nice was a chance to go out ‘begging’ for a penny for the guy then a bonfire if you were lucky with hot dogs and cups of hot soup. We never really had fireworks, although the boys always seemed to manage to get hold of a few bangers or Chinese crackers to scare us all with. Halloween wasn’t really celebrated then. Christmas was when you got tangerines, the smell,of them warmed your heart. We would all get one ‘big’ present, I remember getting a big tin of paints and colouring pencils, I was so happy. But the big thing was we all sat down for a Xmas dinner. We could only afford a big chicken, it wasn’t considered an everyday meat then and you had to have a homemade Xmas pudding with a three penny coin hidden in it. New Years Eve was more for the grown ups. But the beauty of all these ‘customs’ were, they were never spoken about until a couple of weeks or so before the occasion so the excitement had a little time to build up. I feel so sorry for kids today, especially at Xmas time. They start seeing things in the shops by Aug/Sept, Santa appears before November sometimes and the wait to get their pressies must feel like forever. And don’t even start me on the amount of stuff they get, and you can bet, within a few days they will be bored! So, yes, I am saddened that we no longer celebrate our customs and traditions as we once did.

HillyN Sun 14-Oct-18 19:02:00

I thought Guy Fawkes Night was supposed to celebrate the fact that the plot failed.
I think it spoils the 'treat' of chocolate eggs, hot cross buns etc to have them all year round but wouldn't want to limit them to just one day. Why can't spiced buns without crosses on be available the rest of the year?
As for mince pies, my Gran always said that you would have one lucky day in the following year for every different person's make of mince pie that you ate around Christmas. She would visit friends and family just to get as many as possible. Now there's a custom I could enjoy... grin

Blinko Sun 14-Oct-18 19:34:22

That's a lovely custom, Greta. Thank you.

Re alternative uses for failed bakes, the family remind me often of scones so hard that the birds investigated but couldn't break into. It was suggested they be donated to the local clay pigeon club for target practice.

notanan2 Sun 14-Oct-18 20:13:32

I think it is important to mark the seasons. It reminds us weird humans who live detatched from the rest of nature to notice the earth's natural waxes and wanes.

How we do so has always been in a constant state of flux, but it is IMO important to do it.

Jalima1108 Sun 14-Oct-18 20:15:49

I think it's important too notanan but to me, marking autumn is celebrating 'Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness' ie a Harvest Festival or a celebration, if not religious, of all the bounty that the Earth has to offer us.

PECS Sun 14-Oct-18 22:08:17

Interesting to hear others' views on Easter being dull! We always painted/decorated hard boiled eggs, made special (Middle Eastern & British) Easter cakes (some featured recently on GBBO!) Always Hot X buns on Good Friday and had Easter Cakes and hard boiled eggs for breakfast (after the competition for the 'strongest' egg!) having hunted for them in the garden first!
When I spent Easter with cousins we had to go to 'meeting' in the morning which was a bit dreary but always had the excitement of a chocolate egg to open after lunch!

Mapleleaf Sun 14-Oct-18 22:11:20

I haven't read all the the threads to the end, so someone else might already have said, but simnel cake, although a tradition of Easter, is also traditional for Mothering Sunday. It harks back to when daughters were in service and were allowed home on Mothering Sunday and took a simnel cake home with them as a gift for their mother, if memory serves me right. Someone might be along soon to either correct me or agree. 😁

notanan2 Sun 14-Oct-18 22:17:38

Easter is my least favourite although we do "do" it.

It feels less creative and less social to me. Other than that it is all a bit tame.

A lot of it is about stodgy food which I dont really like. Maybe Easter is more fun if you are a keen baker. LOVE the creativity and social side of both Christmas and Halloween. A lot of people go abroad at Easter so unless you are specifically on holiday with friends it can be hard to arrange anything.

PECS Sun 14-Oct-18 22:32:20

Perhaps the combination of Middle Eastern and NE English traditions makes it seen it was livelier in our family! grin

Jalima1108 Sun 14-Oct-18 22:52:02

We had pink boiled eggs for breakfast when I was a child - Mum used cochineal
I always used to make a Simnel cake but several in the family don't like marzipan so it ended up on my waistline. Yes, it was originally for Mothering Sunday.

However, the DGC still have Easter egg hunts, round the garden if the weather is fine.

Margs Mon 15-Oct-18 11:18:26

Well, in the USA it seems that Thanksgiving Day overtakes all other traditional celebration days.

Even Christmas. Absolutely amazing! (and I think that when the President 'reprieves' the turkey that the White House is supposedly having for dinner then he should do it for all the other birds as well!)

M0nica Mon 15-Oct-18 13:21:43

Cultural traditions have always evolved, we do not burn witches any longer or dance around Maypoles, except in a slightly self-conscious, 'Look I am maintaining an old cultural tradition' way. Culture cannot be frozen like a mammoth in an ice cap.

Some changes we may embrace, others we may deplore, but either way there is little we can do to hold them back or drive them forward.

My Christmas decs go up when it is convenient for me and taken down likewise. If some want the fairy lights up in November, well, that is their choice. Just chill.

lemongrove Mon 15-Oct-18 13:27:04

Lovely post MagicWriter 👍🏻😃

lemongrove Mon 15-Oct-18 13:30:07

Why Monica you old hippy you grin
Yes, it’s now a tradition to get bladdered every Saturday night, followed by kebab eating and what comes soon after
🤢 ( for quite a lot of people.)

PECS Mon 15-Oct-18 14:53:14

I agree M0nica everything evolves & it is usually futile to attempt to stop it!
Whilst burning / drowning women thought to be witches was common practice I am not sure I would class it as a cultural tradition.. it was a type of hideous punishment common in many countries.

Do you think some "evolution" is manipulated or contollable? I'm thinking of international concern re plastics/ climate etc. I know off track from ' cultural tradition' but is it futile to try to slow climate change by changing our established habits?

M0nica Mon 15-Oct-18 16:40:45

Neither the problem of plastics, nor global warning can be described as a'cultural tradition. They are issues that our current age has to deal with, and society has always dealt with issues that are a practical threat to people's lives. In the early medieval citizens were banned from roofing town houses with thatch and the distance between houses in towns was stipulated reduce fire risk, to reducing emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere today. Those are quite separate issues from culture and tradition and work in an entirely different way.

Culture and tradition is merely the way our grandparents did things and we change them, until we become grandparents in our own lives, our grandchildren reject the culture and tradition of centuries, or more likely about 50 years and establish their own culture and traditions and so on and so on..

Blinko Mon 15-Oct-18 17:55:06

I think that witches were hanged, heretics were burnt. Poor victims, all of them.

PECS Tue 16-Oct-18 09:29:38

I suppose my point, poorly made, was that our now cultural reliance on petroleum and our cultural disposable lifestyle is contributing to a sppeded up evolution..we could slow it down.

BBbevan Tue 16-Oct-18 09:45:04

We always decorated eggs to boil for Easter Sunday breakfast. Since my dad was bald they always had glasses and looked vaguely like him

maytime2 Sat 03-Nov-18 14:15:34

Apologies for adding my thoughts on this subject a bit later than anyone else.
A custom that has died down in this part of South West Wales is the welcoming of the New Year by children singing outside each house and being given money by the Householder. We usually had a penny, or if lucky thruppence, from each house. This money was called "Calennig" in Welsh, the song that was sung was also in Welsh. We would also have a cake from the Baker and an orange from the Grocer. This took place on New Years morning and it all finished by 12 noon.
It is such a shame that it has died, but I suppose we do not encourage children to knock on strangers' houses these days.