Creating and Recreating Holiday Traditions with Brian Earl from “The Christmas Past Podcast”

Episode 01

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of our holiday traditions—real tree or a fake tree? Love egg nog or hate it? Decorating to the hilt or like to keep it minimalist? In this kickoff episode of our Untraditional Traditions series, we’re doing a deep dive into some of the traditions many of us may observe at the holidays, and a few we might want to try!  Like, how many of you put up your Christmas tree at Halloween and take it down on Valentine’s Day? Well, our guest this week does and he just gave us all permission to do that same (you’re welcome). Because that’s the fun thing about traditions—we can take the ones that mean the most to us and build off them to create something that really reflects who we are. And if our old traditions leave us feeling flat, there are always new things to explore. Brian Earl, the host of the “Christmas Past” podcast is the perfect guide as we begin this series. Brian dedicates hours of research to uncovering the roots behind many of our beloved (and maybe to some, annoying) holiday traditions. Ever wonder why we put up a Christmas tree in the first place? He lays it out for us, along with many other interesting facts around traditions. Also, he and Jen reminisce about being kids in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s and the nostalgia around gifts we received and the Christmas commercials that used to barrage us on TV. (Rubik’s Cube, anyone? How about Teddy Ruxpin)? As they wind through the nostalgia of traditions past, Jen and Brian also talk about creating new traditions, and how valuable those are and will become to us and our people. Brian’s years of research have resulted in a book about all the fascinating, sometimes really surprising stories behind our holiday traditions, why we should care about them, and what they mean. Get into the spirit of the holidays as we wax nostalgic and dream of new ways to celebrate the season.

Episode Transcript

Hey, everybody. Jen Hatmaker here, your host of the For The Love Podcast. You guys, welcome to the show. You know, we do a holiday series every year and the team and I when we were brainstorming this really almost a year ago, we were like, “Let’s just mix it up a little. Let’s come at this from an unexpected angle. Let’s talk about some of the untraditional delights and joys of Christmas, or let’s just think of it in new, kind of fresh ways.” We just decided to shake it up, so obviously we can’t have a strong conversation around Christmas without talking about traditions. They just kind of go hand in hand.

But to really understand why any of us are subverting these traditions which we’re talking about over the course of this whole series, doing something new, doing something different, doing something unexpected, I think we first need to go back to the history of where they came from in the first place, you know what I mean? Like why egg nog? Why a fat man in a red suit? What’s figgy pudding? How did any of this come from and how did we even end up here? Now, if you’re a longtime listener, you know we tend to be pretty female centric here on the show, but every once in a while we sneak a dude in. And lucky for him, Brian Earl gets to talk Christmas traditions with us. You guys, I recently came across Brian’s podcast. It’s called Christmas Past, which we’re going to talk about. You’re going to love to hear kind of the origin story here. And essentially it’s like Christmas NPR. He is a master storyteller, a skillset he did not even know that he had, and honestly his show in itself might be a new tradition for me because it’s so fascinating and interesting to listen to while I wrap gifts for 15 years, right? We don’t have to be bored while we do it, people.

Brian’s got tons of thoughtful research, a very dynamic delivery, which you’ll see, and he makes it even more fun and kind of adds this new layer of kind of magic, and knowledge, understanding, and wonder to the holiday season. His show is now in its seventh season and it has a worldwide audience. And it’s grown to that, so we talk about that very first year, and then how it began to change. Brian actually has the highest rated and most popular podcast about Christmas, all right? Obviously, we wanted to have him on our series.

Also, fun fact, and I think he mentions this in our interview actually, he generally puts up his tree on Halloween and he takes it down on Valentine’s Day. I can get behind this, all right? I can so get behind this kind of enthusiasm. I don’t know if you remember this but I hired someone to decorate for me last year and it was revolutionary. I don’t know if I can ever be as dedicated to the season as Brian is. I frankly don’t know if anybody can. But I do have mad respect for his game. Oh, and also fun news. As his star continued to rise and his podcast continued to get more and more delighted listeners and attention, he now has a book coming out about all the fascinating, sometimes really surprising stories behind our holiday traditions, why we should care about them, and what they mean. I loved this. I could have asked him 20 billion more questions, but all this is so interesting. It’s such a neat deep dive into what we do during Christmas and why we do it, and so I think you’re going to love this, you guys. You’re going to for sure love him and you’re going to for sure want to go over to his podcast, Christmas Past, and hit that subscribe button.

So, you guys, please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful Brian Earl of the Christmas Past Podcast. 



Mentioned in this Episode: 



For the Love Podcast episode with “Deck the Hallmark”



Christmas Past: The Fascinating Stories Behind Our Favorite Holiday’s Traditions
by Brian Earl



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