• Aditi Saksena

This Christmas, gift Love!

Updated: Dec 20, 2021

Christmas is a time of love and giving, mostly giving gifts with a lot of love, but you get my point. As kids we (by “we” I mean the 90s kids) looked forward to Christmas, waking up early in the morning, gifts by the pillow or under the Christmas tree. Christmas has always been one of my favorite celebrations, it was the one day where nothing bad could happen, I have a lot of yuletide cheer in me.

If you want to travel this Christmas, instead of looking for white Christmas, may I suggest a green Christmas? (Read: Green Christmas in India: Places to visit)

For the longest time, I’ve believed that Christmas is about joy and laughter and caring, just a little bit about those around you. This is why we feel like the perfect gift this Christmas would be symbolic adoptions. Don’t worry, symbolic adoption does mean that you would have to take care of another living being, but not physically. And as a fun bonus, we will travel around the world learning different Christmas traditions! Fun (for me and I hope for you too!)


Kangaroos
Kangaroos

So for our first tradition, we have Reindeers. Did you know, reindeers were not always a part of Christmas stories? The origins of reindeers actually came in as late as the 19th Century. One of the first associations that Santa and reindeers had was in a single line of a poem by an anonymous poet called ‘A new year’s present’. And they were actually referring to a deer. However a few years after that another poem came out, titled “Twas the night before Christmas” which gave rise to the belief in magical reindeers pulling the Santa's sleigh for years to come.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and call'd them by name:

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now! Prancer, and Vixen,

"On! Comet, on! Cupid, on! Dunder and Blixem;

"To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

"Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

With the sleigh full of Toys - and St. Nicholas too:

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound

Clement Clark Moore, 1823


Santa’s reindeers may not have authentic origins, like from the bible or holy grails but it’s as real for children as is Santa himself. “A true selfless act always sparks another.” So, this Christmas let’s protect what made our childhood happy, and full of wonder.

Adopt a reindeer is an amazing organization to do that, they are not only using the donations to help save the ecology that reindeers live in but also the indigenous Sami culture that has been the guardians of reindeers for generations.


Moving from the Arctic, we are going to travel halfway around the world to Australia. Well, they have a very interesting tradition. Since their Christmas falls in the summers, they don’t really experience snow, which is why when Santa reaches Australia, he gives his reindeers a rest and six white Kangaroos pull the sleigh and he changes into something less warm like a red t-shirt and shorts. The kids in Australia put out cold beer and cake for Santa.

The houses are decorated almost identical, with a Christmas tree and lighting, etc, but with the exception of decorating their houses with bunches of Christmas bush. It is a native summer bush of Australia that has really pretty and shiny red flowers during the months of Christmas.


Reindeers

While no matter how much I try finding the answer to why Kangaroos replaced reindeers or when this belief came to be, I don’t think I will find a better answer than imagination and the spirit of happiness and belief. It’s like North says, “As long as even one believes in the magic, it will stay alive.”


Six white boomers, snow white boomers,

Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.

Six white boomers, snow white boomers,

On his Australian run.

Pretty soon old Santa began to feel the heat,

Took his fur-lined boots off to cool his feet,

Into one popped Joey, feeling quite okay,

While those old man kangaroos kept pulling on the sleigh

Rolf Harris, 1960

So while the six white boomers (male Kangaroos) are out there spreading happiness and love to the kids in Australia, why don’t we spread some love and awareness for these amazing animals known for actually boxing through symbolic adoption this Christmas?

Kangaroos have over 70 species throughout Australia and its neighboring Islands, however, 95% of the species are still under wraps. They have been dubbed as the “most successful evolutionary product of Australia”; they are still at risk of going extinct unless we save them.

WWF’s symbolic adoption helps you do exactly that. With WWF’s symbolic adoption program, you not only get a certificate of adoption of your kangaroo but also toys to remember your contribution.


Wild Goat

This one is probably the most different kind of Christmas tradition you would ever come across, which is also why Christmas in Gävle, Sweden is definitely on my bucket list. They have a very unique tradition of building yule goats from straw. The tradition serves two purposes, the straw used is the last few grains left from the last harvest is said to have magical properties and places like Sweden and other Scandinavian countries have their own kind of Santa. They believe that Thor rides across the sky on magical goats. Here is where it gets interesting. In 1966, the town decided to do something fun and created one of the largest yule goat statues. Since then, they create it every year and every year the town's youngsters try to burn it down. It is a friendly war between the young and the old of the town. One trying to save their pride and the other trying to burn it down to the ground, (sounds familiar?). In the past 50 years, it has been destroyed 35 times. The town has all kinds of security in place to prevent destruction. So, the kids got creative. One time they hacked into the CCTV cameras to burn down the goat. We do sincerely hope this year the goat makes it till 25th December, if not see the new year.

While wild goats aren’t exactly up for adoption since their IUCN status is least concerning, Gävle’s stubbornness warranted its need to be here.


This brings us to some other countries which have really fun Christmas traditions. Poland does not honor Christmas as much as they honor Christmas eve. On Christmas eve, they wait till the first star to eat. This tradition resembles the star of Bethlehem, the star that not only led the three wise men to Jesus’s birth but also the star that grants the magic of Christmas. Poles also believed that on the eve, for a few hours animals are given the power to speak, which is why Poles treat their animal throughout the year, to stay off the naughty list. In Denmark, small children go into the woods on Christmas eve to feed the animals and birds.


No matter where in the world, animals are highly associated with Christmas. There are a lot of other animals that are associated with Christmas and this Christmas need your help. We have animals that are associated with Christmas due to their snowy animals that are associated with Christmas due to their snowy colors like Owl, Polar bears, and Penguins. If you are a birdwatcher, or your child loves birds, you can also adopt birds of Christmas like Partridges, Robins, or Turtle doves.


I really hope that this Christmas our future learns a little more about our traditions and our roots. As always, if you are looking into symbolic adoptions or actual adoptions, we would be more than happy to spread some yuletide cheer and help you find the right match. All you have to do is leave us a mail at khakhed@gmail.com .

Merry Christmas and a very green Day!





IUCN statuses:

EX- extinct/ EW- Extinct in Wild/ CR- Critical endangered/ EN- endangered/ VU- vulnerable/ NT- Not Threatened/ LC- Least concerned

The article and its content belong to Khakhed. If you do wish to use this article please reach out to khakhed at khakhed@gmail.com.

The designs and infographics belong to the designer and Khakhed. If you wish to use the designs, please reach out to khakhed on khakhed@gmail.com.

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