Our family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not affected by the holiday. First and foremost, we get a big old break from school at the end of December (yay!). We get subjected to Christmas music and Christmas commercials and Christmas displays in every single store, usually beginning back in October. We have to navigate Christmas-induced traffic in the main shopping areas. And all of our friends are busy for the vast majority of the season, attending Christmas events, preparing for the holiday, and (we assume) wearing sweaters decorated with reindeer the entire time.
It can be a little isolating not to be Christian this time of year.
A few years ago, we dreamed up our own December tradition: Rings Day. Starting on the 25th and running until the 31st, we watch all three Lord of the Rings films back-to-back. We start at Bilbo’s 111th birthday party and try to get Frodo’s trip to Valinor to unfold on New Year’s Eve. It gives the kids our own December tradition to look forward to and occupies us when all the stores and restaurants are closed and our friends are ensconced in Christmas activities.
We picked The Lord of the Rings because it sort of feels wintery. Travel cloaks and furry robes and lots of soft layers. Maybe it’s not winter in Middle-earth, but it certainly feels at times as if it could be. We considered going with Harry Potter instead, but didn’t think we had the patience to get through 19 hours of film, even if we had 7 days to complete the task. Plus, we had to pause for things like the Doctor Who Christmas special. No, it was better to go with Lord of the Rings, which only eats up a little over nine hours of our lives.
It’s not just watching the movies: My son wears his Hobbit costume and my daughter dresses up like Arwen. We eat lembas bread. We shout out favourite lines with the characters. We call each other by our Hobbit names and speak in terrible British accents. We read aloud passages from the books. For 7 days, we eat, drink, and think Middle-earth.
It felt important to have something — a tradition — during a time when everyone around us is busy with their own holiday traditions. So we made a holiday; a very very very important holiday, I might add.
So happy (almost) Rings Day. If you don’t have a tradition this time of year (or feel a desperate need to get away from Christmas for a bit), feel free to grab our family tradition. Or make it your own with a completely different fandom.