What is...

Quintus Member Posts: 62
edited 29. Mar 2019, 06:16 in Chit chat
This is a question that intrigues me for a long while: what is tradition? Or what is a country/ nation? When does a tradition begin to be a tradition ? The Christmas tree, for example. Apparently it showed up first in Alsace. Someone put up for no apparent reason a tree in his or her living room, decorated it and for no apparent reason it became a symbol for Christmas. Though I hardly can make a connection with the birthday of a certain Jesus of Nazareth. Weil- how? Why? Why did it become such a powerful tradition?
Countries likewise? Where and when did who decide that here is a borderline? From this line on you are a stranger. If you cross the line you are most likely to become an enemy. Within this line we are a people. And sometimes, a little bit as Neruda puts it, this line dies, and it's people with it. How it comes? Who defines that. With what kind of right? Who grants that right?
I think this is a very simple question. I never got a simple answer to it. Perhaps someone here may help?


  • dreamdaisy
    dreamdaisy Member Posts: 31,520
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I too wonder about these things and have no idea as to the answers. It must be that countries and borders are historic and always a matter for challenge, which as an island we don't have to worry about too much. I thought it it was Prince Albert who introduced the Christmas tree to the UK but I could very well be wrong.

    Language is a fascinating area too, who first translated 'chien' into 'dog' or vice versa? How did they know? Vocabulary develops according to need, the Scots have a lovely range of words for rain, the Inuit likewise for snow. Then there are the words for which there is no direct translation, 'schadenfreude' is the classic example. The ability to enrich our lives with knowledge and learning is a great gift for, and of, humanity. DD
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,297
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Quintus, as ever you give much food for thought and pose very interesting questions.

    As it happens, I've recently read a book on very early Scottish history (long before it became Scotland). I imagine most countries are similar. They start with a thirst for power - some warrior getting together a better army than his neighbours. Boundaries chop and change a great deal for centuries. The ordinary people tend to accept whoever's in charge as ordinary people usually want only a quiet life.

    Eventually boundaries become more established, usually using geography - rivers, mountains etc. In exchange for a quiet life, taxes are demanded and, once people are paying for even small benefits, they resent any 'outsider' gaining similar benefits without paying.

    As for tradition, I think they just arise. I can imagine someone deciding to decorate a tree in the middle of winter when there were no flowers and nothing much to brighten the days. Then a small tree is brought indoors, neighbours like it and copy, etc etc. A tradition is born.

    Traditions die too. In my youth we had Mischief Night, the day before Bonfire Night (two traditions :wink: ). Now the U.S. Trick or Treat of Hallowe'en has supplanted it.

    DD - oh wow :o I confess I didn't believe you about the Scottish words for rain but check this out https://tinyurl.com/or28f6v . I love 'bleeter'. And I've long cherished 'dreach'. very descriptive.

    As for 'dog' words, I expect an Englishman went to France, pointed and said 'dog'. Then the French guy said "Non, Monsieur, 'chien'. And then the Englishman thought "Oh oh, we have a right one here" and shouted 'NO, DOG'. So the Academie Francais stepped in and...... :wink: And that's possibly how the wars between England and France started :lol:
  • Kitty
    Kitty Member Posts: 3,583
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Actually, NONE of the Christmas traditions are remotely Christian or connected to Christ. The Pagan Romans have a lot to answer for!
  • Airwave!
    Airwave! Member Posts: 2,431
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    And the pagan inhabitants before them. Worshipping a single entity is a modern concept.
  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 27,297
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Worshipping a single entity is a modern concept.


    3,800 years if you consider Judaism as the start of monotheism. Many say it came long before that.
  • Quintus
    Quintus Member Posts: 62
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I don't believe in Stickywickets theory. I really do not think the WORD dog caused the endless wars in between England and France. (That has been a tradition in itself)
    I think it all began with the dogs themselves when a french Bulldog fell in love with this cute little Corgy. The ruling classes where not amused by this mésalliance and all hell broke loose. And since people love to bear grudges it went on for a very long time. Eventually the people on both sides became used to the idea of french Bulldogs coupling with Corgies and everything calmed down. Unfortunately history tends to repeat itself.....(another tradition)