Family Rituals and the Potential for Interaction Design: A Study of Christmas

Daniela Petrelli, Ann Light

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on a field study with eight families in northern England, we explore the traditions and rituals carried out at Christmas, looking at the artifacts and processes that constitute family life at this time of year. In addition to individual differences, a common pattern emerges: an extended preparation is carried out by the hosting household over a few weeks to set up the celebration and build expectations; preparation gives way to a short but intense celebration shared with the family or intimate friends; then decorations are stored and there is a return to normal life. The celebration is across generations, and everyone takes part. We note examples of new and evolving rituals. Starting from the three identified phases, we discuss the theoretical and technical implications of our findings for the design of more sympathetic technology that holds potential for augmenting family rituals sensitively and possibly creating new ones.
Original languageEnglish
Article number16
Pages (from-to)1-29
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2014


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