CHRISTMAS traditions. For some, these are two words that sparkle and glitter like tinsel or a fresh fall of snow. While for others, it is akin to reading a road sign with the words: “Welcome to hell.”

Tradition can be charming and comforting, yet it can also feel suffocating, stoke angst and melancholy. How many times in the coming days will you politely decline to partake in festive “fun” only for someone to cajole “Aww, but it’s tradition …” and find yourself strong-armed into doing it anyway?

In truth, tradition shouldn’t need to feel like a chore. And if it does? Perhaps it is time to embrace some new customs this festive season and ditch the old. Here’s what is in my crosshairs for a shake-up.

Dried fruit

Why is it that a sneaky hellmash of raisins, sultanas, figs and other kindred horrors lurk in all manner of otherwise pleasant culinary dishes at this time of year?

Unsurprisingly, I am not a fan. I have a vivid childhood memory of cheerfully biting into a mince pie only to immediately blanch when the realisation hit that, rather than the gravy-covered, meaty delight I had anticipated, I was instead chewing on a rancid clump of wizened fruits.

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Over the years I have developed a fail-safe strategy whenever such fare is foisted upon me. This involves eating the yummy pastry topping, then discreetly wrapping the sickly-sweet filling in a napkin at the bottom of my handbag to dispose of at the earliest opportunity.

Over-romanticising a white Christmas

While it is undeniably pretty to look out on snowy landscapes as you quaff eggnog and hot chocolate, all snug (and smug) indoors, give it an hour or so and, at best, it turns to muddy slush - at worst we are looking at a perilous ice rink.

No one wants to emulate Torvill and Dean while trying to navigate the supermarket car park to top up dwindling stocks of Pringles, Quality Street and Tia Maria on December 27.

Fancy frocks and swanky suits

Brass tacks: Christmas lunch/dinner is simply a super-sized Sunday roast. No matter how many showy sides and posh puddings from M&S or Waitrose you throw at it.

This isn’t Downton Abbey. There is no need to dress for dinner. Instead, dress fit for purpose. Pull on your roomiest T-shirt and MC Hammer-esque baggy joggers with a forgiving elasticated waistband. Comfort wins every time when it comes to filling your belly with a mountain of roast potatoes.

Christmas crackers

With their groan-inducing dad jokes, daft plastic trinkets, droopy paper crowns and lacklustre bang when you pull them (yep, I am aware this is a catch-all sentence that could apply to myriad aspects of the festive season …) Christmas crackers have well-and-truly had their day.

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I’m sure they were good craic in Victorian times, when exchanging morbidly humorous cards depicting murderous frogs, dead birds and angry mice feasting on a cat was also all the rage.

Today, though, the average time from table to bin for the remnants of cracker paraphernalia is mere minutes. Huge waste on every level. And do you really want to play overfilling the blue bin roulette in the hinterland of late December?

Being busy as a badge of honour

The grind is relentless throughout December. Not only are most folk trying to squeeze a month’s worth of work into three weeks, but many of us can feel hamstrung by a to-do list that seems to grow ever longer, no matter how diligently you tick off tasks.

Whatever your age or inclination, Christmas should be a magical time. The trick is spending it how you want to - rather than wading through the quagmire of obligation and duty.

As part of the festivities in Iceland people participate in Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly into English as “Christmas book flood”, where they exchange books and chocolate on December 24. This is the level of simplicity and joy to which we should all aspire.