“Simply put, a tradition is the past.”
My latest for CiRCE is about Christmas trees in particular and traditions in general.
It is a delicate point I try to make in this essay. I have attempted it a few times before, but find it endlessly refinable: there is some sense in which knowing the origin of a tradition is not terribly important. Traditions are not mnemonic devices anymore than knives or aspirin are mnemonic devices. Traditions are real and potent in and of themselves.