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Holiday Traditions

December 1, 2009

As we get closer to Christmas, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about traditions. Partially because I need to decide which tradition I will share as a part of the Sew Liberated Holiday Traditions Exchange and partially because  I’ve just been doing so much thinking lately about the kind of holidays I want our family to have through the years.

I took my kids to my in-laws’ house today for some time to just play with the grandparents and while we were there, I decided to ask them a bit more about the traditions they had with my husband and his brother and with their families to get some ideas. WOW. So many ideas came out of just one question – I was so touch by all of the beautiful traditions. I was especially touched by how clearly they both held the traditions close to their hearts.

Some of the traditions that they shared:

-More thoughts and memories of each of their childhood holidays with seven fish on Christmas Eve.

-The breaking and sharing of the oplatek (a Polish Christmas wafer). Each family member takes a small piece from the oplatek,  then dips it in honey as a symbol of being a part of the Body of Christ, a part of the family as one unit and to begin a new year with sweetness.

-Celebrating the feast of St. Nicholas (the patron saint of children) in early December where children leave out a shoe for St. Nicholas and he leaves small treats, usually including a small candy cane symbolizing a shepherd’s staff, small coins and small toys. This is believed to also be the origin of Christmas stocking being left for Santa Clause. {This year St. Nicholas Day is December 6th}

-Making Struffoli on Christmas Eve Day – fried small bits of dough covered in honey and often sprinkles. They were traditionally made by nuns in Italy to give as thanks for charity throughout the year.

Some traditions that my own family had/has:

-Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve

-An Advent Wreath

-A Christmas Eve meal that consisted entirely of food chosen and requested by the kids. It sounds simple, but we looked forward to that meal all year long. It usually consisted of some sort of combination of chips and dip, mini hot dogs in crescent rolls(pigs in a blanket), shrimp cocktail, doritos, soda and candy.

-Opening one present on Christmas Eve – almost always new pajamas to wear that night.

-At least a couple of us sleeping in the same room(there were 4 of us), so someone would sleep on the floor.

-Leaving out cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.

Some traditions that we want to begin with our family:

-Leaving “reindeer food” (glitter and oatmeal) leading up to the front door to help the reindeer find our house.

-Leaving the manger of our Nativity Scene empty until Christmas morning

-Having a special pickle ornament

-Learning about and making St. Lucy cakes on December 13

-Candles in our windows(symbolic of the light welcoming Mary and Joseph as well as the Star that led them to Bethlehem)

As I listened to the traditions, it was so interesting to me to see the common threads that flow with the traditions that I associate with my childhood and those that my husband had as a child. I can especially relate because many of these have similar roots because both of our families are Catholic and partially Italian. On his side, there is also Russian and Polish and on my side there is also German and Irish.

I loved that while listening to these stories and thinking about the traditions my family had, it reminded me of where the Christmas spirit and festivity and joyfulness comes from. As I have been contemplating the tradition that I will share for the Holiday Traditions Exchange, I kept thinking there wasn’t much that would be very different for me to share. I’m so thankful that I took the time to be a bit more contemplative about this because it has brought to mind so many things that I haven’t thought of in years and all of them make me smile. I’ve spent so much time lately worrying about how I want to make the holidays meaningful and not about presents for my children and I really just needed to think more about how I can use it as an opportunity for us to learn and build memories together as a family.

What are your family Holiday Traditions? Leave a comment or I’d love for you to share your link to your post about them below!



{This post is a part of Steady Mom’s 30-Minute Blog Challenge}

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 1, 2009 9:01 am

    We have some established-like a special Christmas morning breakfast. Opening one present Christmas Eve. Opening stockings before breakfast Christmas morning.

    I also write each family member a letter-describing reasons I love them that they open after presents are all done.

    We have a Christmas Photo album/scrapbook, too, that holds the letters, a brief description of the Holidays, & pictures from Christmas morning.

    • lillianclaire permalink*
      December 1, 2009 9:10 am

      Oh I love this Christmas photo album/scrapbook idea so much! I was looking at pretty Christmas frames at Kohl’s a week or two ago and saw that they had some with the year on them and thought it would be such a cute idea to get one each year. Until the ladies standing next to me pointed out to me that if I did that I wouldn’t have anywhere to put all of the frames starting in a few years and they’d get stuck in boxes and defeat the whole purpose. I was seriously glad that they pointed it out to me because I wouldn’t have thought of that(perhaps why I have the messiest house ever??), but I have been trying ever since to think of a way to do something special other than just our normal online pics.

  2. Victoria permalink
    December 1, 2009 11:06 am

    Thanks for sharing your holiday traditions.
    This inspires me to do a little more thinking on mine.
    Today I have a post about the start of what I hope will be a long tradition. I’m new to the advent calendar and learning about it’s beginnings.

    That stuffoli looks wonderful! Do you have a good recipe?

    • Victoria permalink
      December 1, 2009 11:09 am

      oops! Sorry, I think I may have posted my link twice.

  3. December 1, 2009 7:27 pm

    Holiday traditions… Wow, I think that’s a great post idea and I may just save ours up for next weeks 30 minutes!!!


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