From picking out and decorating the perfect tree to reading the same story each Christmas Eve, many families partake in special traditions throughout the holiday season. Have you ever thought about how your friends and neighbors celebrate the holidays? It’s a fun and practical learning exercise to think about the traditions practiced in other households. Even Sherlock Holmes and some of our other favorite literary characters exemplified the Christmas spirit and engaged in their own celebratory customs.
While Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes is sassy and cunning, even throughout BBC’s holiday episodes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original writings portray a more emotionally fluid detective.
“The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” an installment of Doyle’s short Sherlock Holmes stories, chronicles a holiday mystery. Sherlock must discover who forced a precious stone down a goose’s throat in an attempt to smuggle the gem to an awaiting buyer. Once the culprit confesses, Holmes tells the thief to leave without saying any other words. The thief abides and our favorite detective explains,
“I suppose that I am commuting a felony, but it is just possible that I am saving a soul. This fellow will not go wrong again; he is too terribly frightened. Send him to jail now, and you make him a jail-bird for life. Besides, it is the season of forgiveness. Chance has put in our way a most singular and whimsical problem, and its solution is its own reward. If you will have the goodness to touch the bell, Doctor, we will begin another investigation, in which, also a bird will be the chief feature.”
Sherlock Holmes embodies the meaning of Christmas by forgiving and pardoning the thief. While everyday citizens are not meant to act as judge and jury, I think we can appreciate the fictional tale, knowing Sherlock’s ability to read people and accurately predict cases and their outcomes.
My favorite Christmas tradition throughout the Harry Potter series is the giving of homemade gifts. What I would love most for Christmas (aside from my Hogwarts acceptance letter) is an initialed sweater knitted by my favorite magical mama, Mrs. Weasley. The Weasleys ooze kindness (and hilarity). They are frugal, giving gifts from the heart, and they accept “outsiders” into their home. I can’t think of a more magical place to spend the holidays than with the Weasley clan.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children are greeted in Narnia for the first time by perpetual winter without Christmas! The children’s journey through the wardrobe prompts Aslan’s return to Narnia, which causes the snow to melt and Father Christmas to make an appearance. Father Christmas gifts Peter, Susan, and Lucy invaluable treasures that provide personalized aegis to each recipient. While it may be more than a little difficult to find a special cordial that can heal the sick on Amazon, I appreciate the heartfelt gifts that are specific to each recipient.
While gifts from Santa are a holiday tradition in many homes, defeating evil seems to be another “tradition” that develops throughout the Chronicles of Narnia. Let’s hope that the jolly old elf feels welcome, while the White Witch steers clear of our holiday celebrations.
When his mother stumbles upon a doll known as Santa’s Scout, Greg confides in his famous diary his confusion over the concept of Santa’s omniscience regarding good versus bad children. Greg’s mom uses Santa’s Scout, who behaves much like Elf on a Shelf, as a tool to prompt her children into good behavior. Everything works out for Greg by Christmas, even though he has to survive a blizzard and take the fall for unintentional vandalism at school. Do you have an elf who visits your home over the holidays? Do you share any other traditions or winter chores with Greg?
The holidays aren’t always a pleasant time of year for some families. Ramona Quimby’s family has a rough Christmas during her second grade year at Glenwood School, starting with the day her father comes home and announces he has lost his job. The Quimbys also deal with the family’s temperamental car, Ramona’s sister’s problems with creative writing, and Ramona’s efforts to get her father to stop smoking. While Mr. Quimby reassures Ramona that the Quimbys will always be together and strong, all of the unfortunate circumstances prevent some of the usual holiday cheer. Despite Mr. Quimby’s struggle to find a new job, Ramona plays a sheep in her church’s Christmas Pageant, stealing the show and helping her family enjoy the holiday.
The Quimbys live a positive and inspiring message by celebrating the meaning of Christmas even when their lives weren’t going as expected.
From Sherlock Holmes to Ramona Quimby, many of our favorite literary characters observe Christmas traditions while conquering contention. What traditions will your family participate in this year? If your holiday rituals include enjoying a good book together, check out K12’s suggested reading lists, which include most of the titles mentioned above.