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By Lia Blanchard

Sending holiday cards. Baking. Caroling. Do you do as much of these holiday activities as you used to do? As much as your mother did?

Most of us don’t. Statistics show that these traditional activities are on the decline – buying holiday cards to send through the mail dropped from 77% of Americans consumers in 2005 to 62% in only four years, according to a 2010 Chicago Tribune article.

Christmas card

Christmas card

It doesn’t take a sociologist to figure out why these traditions have declined: American society is continuously evolving, and her traditions reflect this. Holiday cards are less likely to be sent as they become more expensive and cheap or free – and instantaneous – electronic alternatives are available. The increase of families headed by either a single parent or two parents who both work mean there is less time available for baking and caroling.

On the other hand, listening to Christmas music on the radio is on the rise, with stations that switch to an all-Christmas format often seeing their ratings double. Holiday shopping trips with family and travelling more than 50 miles to be with family or friends are also on the rise.

My own family traditions seem to follow the national trend, with the more time-consuming practices either being replaced by more efficient alternatives or falling by the wayside completely. This year will prove more interesting still: several family members have moved to far away states, so – like many American families – our activities will have to accommodate the distance.

How have your holiday traditions changed over the years? What have you stopped doing? What have you added? Why were these changes made?

Coming soon: Winter holidays around the world