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Maria Soxbo, editorial no 7.

This year, we have invited the renowned and award-winning journalist and author Maria Soxbo to work with us to raise the issue of sustainability in a modern and interesting manner. We believe that raising awareness is the first step, because awareness matures into thought patterns and actions that become more long-term. Through Maria’s words on the this subject, we hope to reach people’s thoughts and actions.

Trend or tradition?

The first Advent Sunday has passed, and Christmas 2021 has entered our homes. According to the industry, this year’s Christmas colour scheme is neutral with green as the strongest accent, plenty of paper decorations, and a look that flirts with both the 1970s and classic Christmas motifs. Last year, decorations had to be glass, the colour tones earthy, while flannel fabrics and mini spruces added the finishing touch. And two years ago, Christmas was all about subtle colours and a minimalist style with plenty of natural elements such as cones, twigs and nuts.

This piece is not intended as a trend report or a look back at Christmas trends, but rather a reflection on the fact that our weakness for following the latest trends threatens to eliminate one of the best Christmas traditions ever – that of reunion.

Maria Soxbo is a journalist, author and co-founder of Klimatklubben.

For a very long time, Christmas was almost immune to trends. Apart from hype around “this year’s Christmas present” and some occasional novelty on the Christmas table, Christmas was something each family carefully shaped together, over time. In some families, the Christmas tree was put up at Advent, in others only the day before Christmas Day. Some households opened their presents first thing, others not until after their Christmas dinner. The TV traditions, the hatred of certain dishes that no one ate (but which duly appeared on the table year after year anyway) were all unwritten rules dictated by your own family for generations.

And in the homely hotchpotch of highly personal traditions, the Christmas decorations were constant. Everything from the order in which the lights, baubles and tinsel were added to the Christmas tree to how many elves and nativity scenes were dusted off and put on display. The aesthetic Christmas setting was a non-issue – because every family knew exactly “how it should be”. And without it, Christmas just wasn’t Christmas.

But that was then. Christmas trend immunity is no longer 100%. Far from it. Because when the Christmas look is suddenly supposed to be “blue” (2017) or “kitschy” (2013), grandma’s inherited Christmas baubles or the children’s increasingly frayed decorations no longer have a given place. When Christmas takes place at least as much on Instagram as in reality, the holiday also becomes part of the personal brand, and those good-natured Santas who used to stand guard on the hallway table end up being replaced by far hotter and much hyped Advent stars, origami-inspired light strings and spinning paraffin loops, which all steal the spotlight.

Most Christmas decor is beautiful. The classic red Christmas with linen tablecloths, candles and brass details. The calmer Nordic grey with sheepskin and glittering glass. The modern craft Christmas with celestial straw and paper decorations. All Christmas looks are able to set the right mood and provide the perfect setting for this winter holiday. But – something is still lost when Christmas is no longer carefully picked out of a tatty old box of mish-mash of much-loved Christmas decorations, which has been hauled down from the attic, and replaced by decorations pulled out of brand new shopping bags with logos on. When the taste, colour and shape of Christmas are dictated by a new, commercial trend report every year, the familiar fades. Reunion is a Christmas tradition that is rarely mentioned, but which is nonetheless significant.

Of course there is room for renewal. The world is becoming more global, families more multicultural and, above all, new families are formed every day – in all the colours of the rainbow. A Christmas can be celebrated alone, with friends, with relatives or with strangers. In the snow, on a beach or in the middle of a busy big city. Deciding how best to celebrate Christmas is up to each individual, and there is no right or wrong.

But in a world that is spinning faster and faster – too fast, given planetary resources and human health – there may still be a point in standing up for traditions. Protecting what we already have. Let Christmas be a refuge from commercial trends and welcome that dusty box with beloved and familiar Christmas decorations into the world again. Before anyone realises that it no longer “sparks joy” and cleans it out for good.

Maria Soxbo is a journalist, author and co-founder of Klimatklubben. She switched from being an interior design blogger to become a greenfluencer, seeking to inspire more people to see the benefits of living sustainably. She is convinced that most of us would feel better by living a life within the boundaries of the planet rather than at the limits of our income and mental health, as in the treadmill of a society we live in. Together with Emma Sundh she also runs the podcast Plan B which focuses on the good life after the transition. On her own and together with others, Maria has written a total of six books about the climate and sustainability, and in 2021 she was 25th on the list of Sweden’s 101 biggest sustainability influencers.