Since it’s Christmas time, I thought I’d write an article about traditions. Christmas is a tradition. And everyone would agree that it’s beautiful to celebrate it each year, that it’s a magical event that bonds people together. I think that as well, but there are many other things related to this topic.
In the Czech Republic, people usually have a carp for Christmas dinner. They buy it a day before the Christmas Eve and then they kill it and cook it. Even though our family has never done it, I’ve always thought this is the thing to do. This is the tradition. And I think that there is a huge problem hidden behind this whole tradition thing, and that is the lack of critical thinking.
First of all, I would like to say that I really like traditions. They are rituals which create and most importantly keep unity and strong bonds among human beings. Even if people are headed for different things, places and interests during the year, even if they’re too busy or too far away, they always come home for Christmas and celebrate it together. They sing carols, bake and cook, decorate the Christmas tree. And Christmas is not the only tradition – there are many of them, all different and unique, yet all have one thing in common – their aim is to bond people. And that’s a good thing, right?
But I think that the kind of tradition really does matter. It matters if our tradition is to give each other little presents and spend the day together or if it’s to watch bulls fight involuntarily. Or if it’s to kill hundreds of carps and then eat them while celebrating the day of peace and love (and while giving presents to our dogs – what is the difference?).
Our tradition is something we were raised to believe in. It’s something our parents told us to do. A three year old child would never make difference between a carp and a dog; not when it comes to life and death. But as we grow up, we get used to certain things in life, thinking it’s completely normal as everyone around us does the same thing. In China they eat dogs – which is something we find totally unacceptable. But it’s their tradition. We have ours. And none of them is morally right.
Something being a tradition doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. Everyone in the western world knows that killing dogs is wrong – why? Because we sense that there is a life inside them, that they have the right to live. But so do carps. And so do other animals that we fill our stomachs with, especially on feast days. Especially on those days when we should celebrate love, peace and unity.
And so this is the problem with traditions – we do them without thinking about it. Without thinking if it’s right, if it doesn’t hurt another being, if it doesn’t cause unnecessary death. If it even makes sense (Easter in the Czech Republic is just ridiculous – beating (even though slightly, it’s still weird) girls and receiving eggs for it, whilst the girls get nothing but a boy whipping their bottom? Like what the hell? No surprise this is one of the most sexist countries in the EU).
Traditions are beautiful if they’re celebrated peacefully and with respect to others. Because that’s what they’re meant to do – unite us. And we don’t need unnecessary harm to do so.
I think that we should always stop for a second when it comes to traditions and let it sink a bit instead of immediate decision to go with the flow and obey blindly. Because however beautiful they might be, they make us blind and they imprison us in one way thinking. We need to look under the surface. Because after all, it’s just a tradition. Having slaves was a tradition. Women not having a voting right was a tradition. Not anymore. Because traditions can be changed.
And so can Christmas. This tradition can finally mean what it’s truly supposed to mean – love, unity, peace and no useless murders.
Please, let’s all think about choosing the compassionate way of eating our Christmas dinner this year.