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12/05/2010 12:59:36 AM · #1
Show off your family's Christmas Tradition?

Do you and your family live 'down under' and take a trip to the beach or 'up north' where you go off on a wintery ski trip, or anywhere in between? What do you do for the holidays?

Share your location and traditions to celebrate Christmas Around The World.......

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

12/05/2010 02:09:05 AM · #2
Here in the Lone Star State we don't get much snow. Last year being the lone exception. Had our first White Christmas in about 90 years.

Fort Worth's Christmas Season starts with a parade the day after Thanksgiving and ends with the city's tree lighting ceremony that evening. My husband is Jewish and I am Episcopalian. I don't attend midnight mass anymore. My asthma gets in the way there.

We do celebrate both holidays and light the Hanukkah Candles. Early in the season I make Latkes, potato pancakes. Usually enough to share and eat until the last day. Served with sour cream and warm cinnamon applesauce they always help to get the holiday season off to a great start. Often right after Thanksgiving we would gather whoever was around to watch 'March of the Wooden Soldiers.'

Right after Hanukkah is over, up goes the tree and a few decorations. If they come at the same time then by the middle of December it usually goes up. Often adding a new ornament, trying my hand at a new craft I will try to add a new special treat to my tree.

I love to bake and will often give away homemade goodies, sometimes even adding something yummy on the Tree. I make my special family favorites often during this season but also try to add something new. It might be learning to make candies, a new cookie or like this year, it's pies. I just learned how to make pie crust so I'm excited to make some for this years' feast.

When my girls were little we would make "Herman." Herman is the dough, named by my ex-husband when he was a little boy, from the recipe that his mother gave me. I would mix up 'Herman' and set him to rise. During the season, my ex's only job, other than to buy presents, was to punch Herman. After that we would make him into the most wonderful cinnamon bread that we served on Christmas morning. So, if you were very lucky then you would get a basket with Cinnamon Bread, and other goodies to enjoy for the season.

Steve's girls have always gone to their Mom's for this holiday for obvious reasons, so other than baking I don't have Christmas memories with them. But we always made the most of Hanukkah. Lindsay was the one that usually said the prayers, her being the youngest and all. After that we would have a great meal that ALWAYS included latkes and finally would at some point in the evening give out their gifts. As they got older they might not get one every night but they got a bit nicer over the years. I miss having them home during this time so I just have to make the most of what time I do get with them now.

We don't have any kids at home full time anymore, the last one is off at college, but we do have 3 wonderful grandchildren. We get up Christmas morning and drive over to my daughter's house by 8:00. The rule has always been that you can't have Christmas before 8 in the morning but you CAN look at your stocking. So, an early morning it is. We have a bit of breakfast and then the kids get to tear into the Tree and all that Santa left. After all is done Christmas morning, Papa and I head back home to look at all the pictures we've taken or to choose up sides for a nap. Later that day we go over to one of my Sister's houses for a big family dinner. Finally ending the big day with a trip home, where I usually fall asleep in the car and end up tired but happy as I crawl into bed.

12/05/2010 04:59:37 AM · #3
Here in Holland where Christmas was born, they celebrate Sinterklass on 5 Dec (and also 6 Dec).
He comes from his home in Madrid, Spain on a steamship with his helpers, Zwart Pieters (think elves).
They give out candies to the kids, and legend has it they take the bad children back to Madrid in their sacks...

Since the Dutch love a party, they also celebrate Christmas on 25 Dec, but since a good holiday deserves two days, they also do 26 Dec.

Life is much more interesting far from your birth tree, at least for me!
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12/05/2010 05:37:16 AM · #4
First, thank you so much ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' cowtownmom for starting this thread. I hope to read what other people do during those holidays.

This year I'll be able to take some photos, thanks to the wonderful gift I've received recently (the camera that some DPCers so kindly sent me has been a turning point in this so disastrous year, since that moment things have got better for me). I'm so grateful, I'll never be able to thank them as they deserve.

We are a short family, on my side only my mum and myself, on my husband side : he, his mother, his sister and two nephews (10 and 6 years old).
We have dinner all together the 24th and just after we receive the visit of Santa and open the gifts, our mothers and nephews are always the most excited. It's so nice to see their faces !
The 25th we returm to my mother-in-law's home, our nephews spend that day with their father.
For New Year, it's my turn. I prepare the dinner, nothing complicated and with the Champagne we have "sorpresitas" (normally small hand made things I prepare for them, maybe a book for my hubby) and the next day, for the lunch, our nephews join us to eat their special pizzas.
In the afternoon we all play with wooden puzzles and this year we're going to do origamis and crafts with felt.

In Spain the most important day (for the kids) was the 6th january it's a tradition I really like but I prefer my nephews to receive their gifts the 24th december for them to play, to read during the holidays (from 22th dec to 7th january). The best to keep this nice tradition alive would be to change the date of the schoolchildren's holidays, giving them enough time to enjoy their gifts before returning to school. I had to explain years ago to my nephews that "Papa Noël" visit us because he knows me since I was a little girl in Paris (France).

The 5th january is the day of "la cabalgata de los Reyes Magos" (the Epiphany parade), for many children this still marks the beginning of a magic night.
At home I prepare "une galette des Rois" (french King cake with frangipane).

Message edited by author 2010-12-05 06:14:09.
12/05/2010 04:29:10 PM · #5
12/05/2010 04:41:39 PM · #6
I no longer celebrate Christmas, but for very personal reasons.

However, when I was a child, Christmas was a religious holiday where we went to Midnight Mass (which lasted several hours) following which we had a "Réveillon" a large party held for family and friends. There was all kinds of foods and the adults had the occasional drink and the festivities sometimes extended until lunchtime the next day.

If there was to be an exchange of gifts (we were dirt poor and gifts were not always doled out), that exchange occured on New Year's Day, and happened only after my father had blessed the family, a ritual that lasted till the day he died.

Gifts were not to be confused with what children get today. For me, a new pair of winter boots, some store bought socks or mittens were the norm, and on rare occasions perhaps store bought candy and maybe even an orange.

Times surely have changed a great deal, and I am sorry to say that sometimes I look at what the degree of commercialism now engrained in this season and yearn for days when the meaning truly was something else.

Have a very happy holiday all, and the very best to you and your loved ones.

12/05/2010 08:20:46 PM · #7
Ray that sounds like you had fun when you were a kid. I understand about the commercialization. That's why lots of what we have always given away to family and friends is homemade.

Whether it's cookies, candy, a scarf or sweater or a paper ornament that I made, it was done with lots of love. I grew up in a family of pretty accomplished women but the funny thing is that we are all good at something different. My Mom made the most beautiful knits, my older sister needlepoints, I smock and crochet but my baby sister does most of the above plus. We all cook and bake so the house always smells good at the holidays. I love to pick up a new skill, try a new craft of recipe at this time of the year. This year I hope to make stupendous caramel sauce and I learned how to make pies.

12/05/2010 09:48:41 PM · #8
Looks like we may not be celebrating with friends as they will be out of town. We have no family here as they are in other states/countries so we may just head to the mountains for a bit of sledding.
12/05/2010 10:12:48 PM · #9
I have 3 young girls one of their favorite parts of Christmas is getting out the advent calendars and counting down till Christmas. I make crafts for side money. I made them a cute advent calendar out of a muffin tin magnets cover the openings and inside are little treats. I also made a magnet board with cute little Holiday ornaments that they take turns doing.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923919.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923919.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923920.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923920.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I also bought a little elf we call Timmy he sits on our mantel and makes sure the girls are being good. At night he reports to Santa and in the morning they must find him and put him back on the mantel.

I love to decorate for the holidays and my house practically explodes Christmas. It is fun but I get sick of it all by the time it is over.' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923917.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/120000-124999/121949/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_923917.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

We make Caramel and white chocolate and cinnamon covered apples to give as gifts for all of our neighbors and my husbands co-workers. It ends up being quite the production. I will PM you the complicated process if anyone is interested. They are delicious!
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We also like to go see the lights at Temple Square in Salt Lake City every year. It is an amazing sight. I will have to take a bunch of pictures this year.

On Christmas Eve, we read the Christmas Story out of the Bible and watch a Christmas Video about the Birth of Christ. We make cookies for Santa Claus and the girls get their Christmas P.J's.

Christmas Day is usually spent with extended family. We all try to meet up during the Holiday's. I have 6 brothers and sisters and my husband also has 6 in his family. So it is quite a crowd when we all get together. It is getting harder and harder to all make it together. My oldest sister has grandchildren of her own so she has her hands full just getting all of her kids together.


Message edited by author 2010-12-05 22:15:19.
12/05/2010 10:46:39 PM · #10
36 Years Ago - Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve my two sisters and I would get into the car with my parents. They would drive us to our "cousins" (Italian family, everyone is a cousin) for dinner. We'd be driving along the Housatonic River on our way to Derby, CT and there would be a great big Christmas tree all lit up on the other side of the river. My sisters and I would yell "my side" whenever we saw a house lit up on our side of the car.

When we arrived at my cousin's house, we would have a variety of foods, but my favorite was the macaroni meatballs and chicken cutlets. Bob, the father of the house we were at would make us kids a "special" drink which was simply a mixture of sprite, grenadine, and orange juice with a cherry in it. Since Bob was our godfather, he'd give us a gifts and we'd exchange in return. Desert would consist of cookies and chocolates, and other things as well. In the background, Bob had Christmas music going, the classics, Perry Como, Nat King Cole, etc.

When it was time to go home, we'd play more of the "my side" game as well as look into the sky to see if we saw Santa. Once we got home, it was time to put the cookies and milk out and get ready for bed.

We'd listen for Santa until we fell asleep.

Next: 36 Years ago - Christmas Day (will write tomorrow)
12/06/2010 05:43:15 PM · #11
What kind of cookies do YOU leave for Santa Claus?

We always left sugar cookies and 'My Cookies', a chocolate pecan cookie that was renamed by a family friend.

12/06/2010 05:47:08 PM · #12
We made shortbreads. And the milk was chocolate milk. It took me years to put two and two together: my father was a shortbread junkie and chocolate was the only way he liked his milk, unless it was on cereal...

12/06/2010 08:46:12 PM · #13
That's too funny. Just about the same reason that sometimes we also left Santa Oreos aka Mom's favs.
12/07/2010 04:59:01 AM · #14
When I was growing up Christmas Eve was one of my favourite times as we would visit my grandmother's house. The house was always full of aunts, uncles, neighbours etc. Lots of food and the adults had a drink or two! Great times, I used to love to listen to their stories. Once the adults had a drink or two then the singing would start, Christmas carols, tradditional Welsh songs and songs popular at that time (late 50's, early 60's) . My mother had a wonderful singing voice, I still remember these times with great affection.
12/08/2010 01:42:54 AM · #15
12/08/2010 01:55:15 AM · #16
Even though I live in Colorado, it's a bit of a joke that it never, ever, snows on Christmas. This is largely due to WHERE in Colorado I live, but yeah, rarely snows. And when we get snow here, it typically only is around for a few days and then its gone, unless it snows 1.5 feet or more. For the most part, my family never was super crazy about celebrating Christmas, but there are a few things that we always do. One is The Christmas Story has to be watched at least once, typically while wrapping presents for the rest of the family. We are also a fruitcake loving family (but only my immediate nuclear family...nobody else likes it), and my mom makes an excellent homemade version. She also always makes this awesome cranberry apple walnut pie, and for me, it isn't Christmas unless I get some of that pie.
We only did the cookies thing when I was REALLY little, and I don't remember what kind they were. My sister and I were pretty quick to figure out the Santa thing. That's about it. My immediate family always goes to each grandma's house as well.
12/08/2010 06:55:06 PM · #17
For all the years that I live in St. Louis and put up with the snow, it took last year's EXTREMELY unusual snowfall here in Fort Worth to give me a white Christmas. FIrst one in over 90 years.

12/08/2010 07:50:33 PM · #18
We have some of the same traditions as the rest of you (A Christmas Story, opening presents on Christmas morning) but we do have a couple unique to our family. All children get to open one present on Christmas Eve. this is something chosen specifically to keep them occuoied and not bouncing off the walls all evening with anticipation.

Christmas dinner changes by the cooks mood (turkey, ham, goose) but Christmas Eve dinner is always a huge New England crab boil with corn on the cob, red potatoes, sausages, crabs and shrimp. We just pour it all into the center of a plastic covered table and everyone digs in. Such messy fun, but my daughter would be crushed if we did not do it one year for whatever reason. Some years we invite other people to join us, this year its my in-laws and a couple of cousins. They are fascinated by this custom.
12/12/2010 02:08:27 PM · #19
12/12/2010 03:14:28 PM · #20
When I was little, we would race to see who would get up first, wait impatiently for mom and dad to get up, then open presents. After we were finished, daddy would clean up the paper, we would play, rest or whatever and mom would cook. We'd eat lunch, and afterwards go see my grandmothers.

(Interestingly enough, my parents separated when I was 2. Every year, they would "get back together" for Christmas so I never remember a Christmas without them. They reconciled when I was 9. It doesn't sound like much, but their separation was especially hard on me, and I am eternally grateful they made the effort every year.)

As we got older, the traditions were tweaked but still worked around that basic framework.

Now, with kids of our own, we have tried to do some things that our kids would remember. This year, we introduced "Advent." The kids made an advent wreath and candles, and we are doing an advent calendar (I love the muffin tin idea, may have to "borrow" that). Not a big deal to a bunch, but I've grown up baptist and it is not that big in the baptist tradition, so this year the first year for me as well.

When we finally decide to put the tree up, I will do something in the kitchen (cookies, this year was fudge) to distract the kids until time to decorate.

About two weeks before Christmas, we get together with hubby's paternal grandparents and all of the aunts uncles and cousins. Yesterday, there were 39 there, spanning 4 generations. We eat (they are all phenomenal cooks), read the Christmas story out of Luke 2, sing (they all also sing really well) and then the kids under 18 have these giant stockings that everyone puts a small toy or candy in.

Christmas Eve we go to my in laws, eat a special meal (chocolate gravy, bicuits, omelets), and open presents.

Christmas morning our kids will do "Santa Claus" here (we've never taught our kids about SC, or even "believed" but my 5 yo is convinced and there is no arguing with her about it).

Around lunch we will go to my sisters (used to go to mom's, but with 18 of us now -- kids, spouses and grandkids) and eat lunch and exchange presents with each other. Our family loves to joke with each other, so one year, all of us gave daddy old spice cologne (my dad is gone now and we ALL miss him; we will light a candle in his memory at some point Christmas day, usually), one year one of my nephews (he's 16 now, was 2 or 3 at the time) would only say "hot cocoa" when asked what he wanted, so that's what we all gave him -- he loved it, and then we always try to get some Christmas Story references -- either in presents or clothing or something for my older sister because she detests that movie.

Then it is home again, home again to rest, play or whatever.

Message edited by author 2010-12-12 15:17:29.
12/12/2010 03:23:29 PM · #21
36 Years Ago - Christmas Day
Continued from: Christmas Eve

In the morning, before the sun came up, my sisters would awaken first and come into my room to wake me up. My sisters were 3 and 6 years younger than me. Then, they would wake my parents. We weren't allowed to go downstairs until my parents went first to "see if Santa came". If we went down before them, we were told all the presents would disappear. My father would then get the camera ready. Both my parents would gasp and awe at the presents Santa left, then they would give us the word to come downstairs. We would run down the stairs. Me first, followed in age by my sisters. Our expressions were captured on film every year, our mouths open, eyes amazed by the plethora of gifts Santa would leave. There would be the things we asked for, and many things we didn't.

We would spend the next couple hours admiring what we got. Santa didn't wrap the presents. He just laid them out. My presents were on the fireplace. My sisters' presents were under the tree and partially on the fireplace. The stockings were taken off the fireplace because there would be too much in it to hang. Candy, puzzle games, and little toys filled the stockings. Once we finished admiring the gifts, my father would have the wonderful task of putting the batteries in, putting together the toys, etc.

We would play with our toys for the next few hours. In the meantime, my mother would start cooking for the big feast we'd have around 2pm. My father would be cleaning the downstairs, setting up tables. We kids would continuously interrupt to show what the new toy could do or what was cool about it. The smell of pasta sauce and ham would fill the kitchen.

Late to early afternoon, my grandparents would arrive to help. There would be my grandfather and grandmother (who is now 100) from my father's side, and my grandmother from my mother's side. They would give us their gifts and we'd show what Santa had brought.

Around 2pm, the rest of the guests would arrive. There would be more gift exchanges and then a lot of food to eat. We kids would play with each other, run around the house, play with the new toys. We kids would generally fill up on macaroni and meatballs and skip the ham; we needed to leave plenty of room for dessert which consisted of cookies, chocolates, jello, and all the fun stuff.

Eventually, everyone left to go home and the house was quiet. We kids were left to play with our toys for a little while before having to go to bed. We were exhausted, by excited at the same time.

Santa was good to us. We never realized exactly how much our parent's did for us.

Its now 36 years later, I'm older, and now that I have a daughter of my own, the traditions continue just as they had for me. I find it exciting to walk into a toy store and buy all the toys I think my daughter and nephews will love. I really am not so much excited as to receive gifts, but to see how happy the little ones are.

This is my daughter, delighted to see Santa on the North Pole Express (Essex, CT)
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12/12/2010 04:41:19 PM · #22
I am having so much fun reading all the different traditions that are both so similar to mine and also really different. I hope veryone else is too.

So here's a new question:

What make it Christmas for you? The traditions? The food? The Tree?

When does the season start for you and when do you put up your tree?

12/12/2010 04:53:13 PM · #23
Many years ago, in time almost forgotten, Christmas came just once a year and we as little ankle biters in the 1950's would be ready for this event as early as October, dropping hints and devising plans to ensure we got good pressies.

This was about the same time as my mum started making Christmas cakes(deep, rich, fruit cakes) that matured for a couple of months before the marzipan and icing went on.

Christmas Eve, we listened to carols on the radio(TV wasn't invented, only rich people had it), then went to bed full of excitement.

Christmas morning, at about 2 or 3am, we woke to find a stocking(actually a pillow case)at the end of our beds. It was filled with little presents from Santa. At the bottom was always a Sugar mouse, an Orange and some nuts. Of course, all these things had been left by Santa and Mum and Dad just had to see each and every thing in each individual stocking. They had great patience as they watch the precious items emerge for three huge pillow cases, something I was to witness later in life, on the receiving end!

I will add another bit tomorrow, there are still 13 days to Christmas:))
12/14/2010 04:08:18 AM · #24
Originally posted by cowtownmom:

I am having so much fun reading all the different traditions that are both so similar to mine and also really different. I hope veryone else is too.

So here's a new question:

What make it Christmas for you? The traditions? The food? The Tree?

When does the season start for you and when do you put up your tree?

No tree at home, no ornaments, no lights. The father of my hubby died a 27th december (in my husband's arms) and on my side I never have felt the need to decorate my house for the occasion.
Of course I enjoy the faces of our mothers and nephews when they open the gifts but the true pleasure would be to be at home, quietly, with our cats, no family, no noise, no children.

My husband is always so caring, so loving that everyday is a special day with him, sometimes he brings me a nice stone he has found or surprises me with a book or like past night when he asked me at 5:00 am, noticing that I was awake, if I would like a tea or something else (I'm feeling flu-like those days).
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