Peter McLean’s December Traditions, Rituals and Sacrifices

On the third day of Christmas, my true publisher love gave to me . . . a blog post by the newest member of the JFB family, Peter McLean, whose fantasy grimdark novel, Priest of Bones, will be winging its way to you next autumn.

Yule, Saturnalia, Christmas; however you celebrate, the winter solstice has been a time of festival for thousands of years, a time of ritual and celebration and gathering together. It still is, even if like me you’re not of the religious persuasion.

We all have traditions in our lives, and we have our rituals too, even if we don’t always recognise them as such. The Christmas tradition in my household is family. Every year on one of the days of the Christmas period, the whole family get together. Last year we had twelve of us around two tables pushed together, squeezed into our little house in a riot of noise and light and grandchildren, feasting and fun. We eat and drink and play silly games, exchange gifts and generally enjoy each other’s company. It’s probably the only day of the year when everyone is under the same roof at the same time. We put away our busy schedules and our petty squabbles and prior commitments and everything else that gets in the way all year round, and we come together as a family.

That’s our tradition, and it’s a fine one.

The ritual has already been observed by that point – the annual screening of It’s A Wonderful Life that always plays on the big TV in the sitting room while my wife and I open our presents to each other in the morning before everyone arrives. Neither of us really watch it any more, as after twenty-four Christmases together we both know it word for word, but it’s on. It has to be on; that’s our ritual and it must be observed. I don’t even really remember why any more, but that’s not the point. We do it because we’ve always done it, but the point is that we do it together and we always will.

And the sacrifice? Well, let’s just say it’s a bad time of year to be a turkey.

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