Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Holiday Traditions - by Kathleen Cook

The holidays always give me a glow inside. I smile a little broader; I walk a little faster than these 70-year-old legs usually go. Even my stories are a little more positive, with hope and love and looking forward to the future as my big themes. Looking back isn't bad either, though. Holidays of the past always wax nostalgic in people's hearts. Some of my biggest successes on the old Yahoo Voices of the Community platform were centered around holiday traditions.

People still love to read about the holidays … somehow, it never grows old. Sure, people can write boring Christmas or Hanukah stories, but it isn't the theme that's boring. It's the delivery. As long as you can hold a person's interest, you can write a successful holiday story.

I wish Yahoo Voices were still around. They used to pay for the stories people submitted (as long as they were deemed worthy), both an upfront payment and then a percentage payment for each 1000 views. These amounts were small, it's true … perhaps five dollars up front and fifty cents per thousand views. But for popular articles, you could always earn fifty to a hundred dollars or more, and for bread-and-butter writers, that's not bad. 

One article I wrote on that platform, titled Irish Christmas Traditions, racked up over 100,000 views before the site shut down. People really want tradition in their lives. They want to build memories, a routine that they can pass down to their children. By writing about old traditions of your culture, your ethnicity, your faith, your home town, etc., you provide the framework that allows them to build that routine and those memories.

Although Yahoo Voices is no more, there are many platforms such as Medium, Vocal, and more, where you can attract new viewers hungry for traditions to work into their lives, to provide a set of values, an opportunity to celebrate, and a sense of pride in one's uniqueness.

Think about it: do you have traditions and routines that you perform every year for the holidays? Do you play the same songs, watch the same movie as a family, or cook the same foods? Are they in some way unique to your family, locale, or ethnic group? Write about them! There are people out there who share your similarities and would like to start those routines themselves, but they aren't sure how. 

Since I am of both Irish and Lithuanian descent, I observe many different traditions. I still have a traditional Kūčios, the Lithuanian Christmas Eve meal, which includes no meat. (The fact that I'm a vegetarian anyway makes that part pretty easy!) I also put straw under the table cloth. On my father's Irish side, I learned to make biscuits and put a candle in the window. What do you do? Write about it. 

Yes, there are other articles out there, but none do exactly what you do. I make my foods just a tiny bit differently, muddle the words of songs in a way that suits me, and create my ornaments in a different way. So don't feel as if the subject is saturated . . . there will never be a saturation of things that warm your heart and make your mouth sing!

You don't need to do this for Christmas. Hanukah, Kwanza, Chinese New Year, Krishna Janmashtami, Mabon, Sukkot, Ostara, Setsubun-sai and so many more holidays have their own unique traditions. If you celebrate them, then write down how you do it and why. Someone will want to know, and you'll be spreading joy throughout the world, so that others learn and adapt your traditions to make them unique to their own situations.

I hope all of us experience peace in the coming year, and I hope all of us have something to celebrate when we come together during the next holiday season. Until then, keep writing, my friends.

Kathleen Cook is a retired editor and the author of more than twenty books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project) in the late 90s. She is currently the Arizona Authors Association Editor as well as the new Secretary and Webmistress. Find out more about Kathleen HERE.  

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