The New Traditions of a Digital Age Christmas
The old traditions of Christmas are something we all know and love. Cosy nights in by the fire, gifts from the family, carolling in the snow – painting a picturesque view of a season many millennials have never actually experienced.
The digital age has introduced a new series of traditions for the holiday season; Gen X friendly, Millennial-influenced and Alpha-ready, they’re infiltrating the build up to Christmas in a way that no other technology ever has.
Though the age of the Nintendo and the era of the microchip have altered the gifts we typically receive around Christmas time, nothing has ever evolved our holiday traditions as fast and as unrecognisably as the digital. Social media, online industries and AI are changing the Christmases we know into new holidays, new cultural routines and new aesthetic regimes.
Our Christmas Soundtrack
No longer reserved for long car journeys or the afternoon you spend decorating the Christmas tree, festive music is now available everywhere. Spotify has 12 different playlists dedicated to different genres of Christmas music, from the indie to the instrumental. Wireless headphones and airpods are making today’s generation of music fans more festive, yet more isolated than ever before. The accessibility of portable, cable-less music means that the nation’s favourite Christmas songs can be listened to wherever you are, but can only be heard by you alone.
Interestingly, however, the selection of music appears to have remained constant, despite the modernisation of the listening devices. Classics from Mariah Carey, Wham, Elton John and Slade are still at the top of the festive charts, whilst new additions from the likes of Justin Bieber, Sia and Kelly Clarkson are still struggling to lay claim to the Christmas playlists. So perhaps whilst the digitalisation of how we enjoy our music has changed, the music itself is eternal.
The Instagrammable Christmas
The psychological elements of Christmas have been drastically modernised over the past ten years through the introduction of social media. Where before, the only competitive edge of Christmas decorations was through an open window in a charming rendition of Deck The Halls – now we have an overwhelming flood of high quality Christmases to compare our own to. With snaps of beautiful Christmas trees, expensive jumpers, luxurious gifts and posed family traditions; Instagram, Twitter, Youtube and Facebook are causing more jealousy and envy around the festive season than ever before. Whilst this is having a fantastic knock on effect for high end retailers, who are now seeing an ‘Instagram-boom’ in luxury decoration sales, for the ordinary Christmas reveller, it’s a frustrating and competitive time trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ look for their homes.
But on the plus side, people are now sharing more and more of their holiday traditions online too – whether it be donating old toys to homeless shelters, spending it with elderly relatives, promoting charitable causes or promoting new cultures and religious traditions with those unfamiliar with them. The introduction of social media has helped engage a cultural education this year, with many members of the Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Sikh communities helping others to understand their own holiday and winter traditions at this time of year, building festive relationships before these differing religions.
The idea of an ‘Instagrammable Christmas’ might be an impossibly high standard to achieve this year, but the benefits of social media in the holiday season for positive messaging, charitable good deeds and cultural communities have to be appreciated too.
A Hi-Tech Festive Feast
The traditional Christmas feast is an ancient routine of the festive season. From the Victorian goose, to the modern turkey crown and the alternative vegetarian-friendly nut roast, the process of cooking a big meal on Christmas day is something we all still adhere to do every year. But there are now more cooking gadgets, baking tools and digital cookbooks than ever before, making that stressful process that little bit easier for the designated chef of the day.
Standard print cookbooks from the likes of Jamie Oliver, Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson, though still popular, are rapidly being replaced by digital copies on tablets, phones and laptops. Some families this year could even be using their Smart Home devices such as Google Home or Alexa to guide them through the cooking process, with voice-activated recipes available at just a few simple commands.
The equipment used for festive cooking has also been put through a digital revolution over the past few years, from the simple electric knife to the high speed Nutribullet. Digital scales, souped up electric whisks, hobs with built in temperature gauges and gadgets, colour changing pans and even waffle makers will all be making a difference the standard Christmas feast this year, hopefully for the better!
The Presents Under The Tree
Although timely gadgets have always been a popular item at the top of the Christmas list, this year has gone one step further, with over half of Argos’ ‘Hottest Christmas Gifts’ list being heavily technology based. From gaming consoles to app devices, to laptops and VR headsets, there is now more affordable technology available than ever before. Some of the biggest brands hoping for commercial success this year are also technology related, with companies such as Sonos, Nintendo and Samsung looking to make some serious profit over the festive shopping period.
Children’s toys, once teddy bears and board games, are now being replaced by Call of Duty and Alexa Minis, but more educational tech is being introduced too, with learning games and culturally diverse technology being another big seller this Christmas.
Though beauty is still set to be the favoured gift for women in 2017, beauty and fashion tech is prominently featured in many Christmas gift guides, with movements towards gender equality also introducing power tools, electronic gadgets and hi-tech grooming sets in many retail stores this year.
The digital age has irreversibly impacted the way we interpret and enjoy Christmas, yet so many of our traditions remain. We still put up Christmas trees, we still give gifts, we still drink hot chocolate and we still watch Christmas films – even if through curved, 3D projector televisions with 4D surround sound on heated gaming chairs.