Holiday Traditions?

marylizNovember 8, 2007

This might be a lot of fun. I have been wanting to ask forum members: Do you and your family have any interesting or unique holiday traditions? How do you decorate your home? Are there any special activities you share together? What foods do you make and eat together? Any special songs or music? How do you dress up? Or is it casual all the way? Where do you go to feel in the holiday mood? Are there special stories/games/activities for the kids?

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Rene54

Maryliz, boy does that bring back memories! All I can share is from the past. When my sons were growing up, we had several traditions. For Thanksgiving the boys would make name tags for the table, we used the "good stuff" on days like that,LOL For Christmas we started out on Advent Sunday, with an Advent wreath, and the lighting of the candle each Sunday, also at that time I would set out the Manger but have only animals, we had a manger with a baby that you placed in the hay, so the baby was not there. We added an animal each Sunday too, On Christmas the baby and parents came, then the shepherds. on that day one of the boys got the 3 Wise Men, and put the in another part of the house,the child's job each day or so moved a little closer to the manger, on Jan.6 they arrived. At that time for evening, we did a little blessing of our home. with a piece of chaulk
we went from each doorway and my husband would write on the frame 19+C+B+M+99 this blessing stayed up all year, the date (1999) was the year, and the letter stood for the WiseMen's names. With this we had a King's Cake and Hot Choclate , hey remember we lived in New Orleans. King Cakes are Big Deals. LOL Hope this didn't bore you. There are a lot more things we use to do. Rene

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 10:24AM
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maryliz

Hey, Rene, your story brings back memories for me, too! My mom had the manger statues all set up under the Christmas tree, and every day one of us kids moved the three wise men a bit closer to their goal. They slowly marched across the credenza until they got to the baby on Christmas Eve.

In French class in high school, we learned a little bit about the King Cake tradition, with the little baby baked inside the cake. I seem to recall it was more like a coffee cake than a birthday cake. I think we had our king wear a paper crown.

For me, it's essential to have the Hungarian nut roll cookies for Christmas. They are made with a yeast dough and are rolled up to look like tiny croissants. They are filled with apricot preserves. I also have made them for Easter.

My husband's family of German origin celebrates on Christmas Eve by going to "midnight" church service (I think it's actually 10~11 pm) then coming home to a late, late supper of cold cuts, German sausages with mustard, rye bread, potato salad, etc. We each open one gift that night, then go to sleep very late. (Those who don't live very close have to spend the night.) In the morning, the early birds make breakfast for the stragglers, then we finish opening gifts and go visit family friends who live nearby on Christmas Day.

Even though my paternal grandma & grandpa were Czech and Hungarian respectively, we always had a big pan of lasagna at Thanksgiving. And kielbasa and sauerkraut. My mom likes the kielbasa nearly burnt black on the corners. I still make the kielbasa and sauerkraut when I host Thanksgiving at my house, but I don't burn it.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2007 at 3:29PM
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Rene54

Your traditions and mine so a lot alike! The foods are the best things LOL, making cookies (German kind) and dressings I did have one thing that kept me going some, my Father in Law, was a very good cook, and would do most of the family dinners, he made a cornbread dresssing that was so good you melted, after a few years of begging for the recipt he gave it to me, I did it, and it was terrible, when I told him, he asked if I had put x&x into it, I said no you didn't say that a twinkle came into his eyes and he said Oh I must have forgotten that! It took me 5 years to get the whole receipt out of him, LOL Rene

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 9:06AM
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maryliz

Five years? Oh, wow, I would have wanted that recipe, too, and would have worked just as hard as you to get it. I don't like the idea of "secret" recipes. I share mine freely.

Let's see... what else can I remember? When I was very young, I would help my mother decorate the Christmas tree. She had picked up pine cones from the church where my parents had been married, and then she sprayed them with gold paint and there were green wires to hang them. We would add red velvet bows. The tree was very spare, but artistic.

Later on, we had a lot of handmade ornaments that each of the five kids had made in school. I remember that I got hold of some felt and sewed by hand, using button stitch. I designed and made those all by myself. I remember a tiny tree, embellished with some tiny seeds beads I had found somewhere. I think there was a red one.. perhaps a stocking.

One year, we were too poor to buy a tree, so one of my brothers and I grabbed a bow saw and walked into the woods behind our house. We found an Austrian pine that had been girdled by the bunnies. We chose that one, since we reasoned it was likely to die, anyway. So that's how we got our tree that year. We strung popcorn. I didn't know about the cranberries. We would have had to buy those, and we already had plenty of popcorn.

Boy, when we were young, the five of us loved popcorn so much, I could induce mass hysteria by announcing, "We're going to have a popcorn party!" The youngest kids would scream and jump up and down and tell me to hurry up and make the popcorn. It was usually my job, as the eldest. We had a particular Revereware saucepan, with a thick bottom that would not burn the popcorn. Its name was "The Popcorn Pan," even though we used it for foods besides popcorn.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2007 at 11:47AM
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geezerfolks_SharonG_FL

Maryliz, Way back when my kids and nieces and nephews were little, our whole family would gather at my mom and dad's on Christmas Eve.....Mom always made Chop Suey. We would all gather hands and sing Silent Night and then Jingle Bells before dad handed out presents. Dad passed away in 1979 and mom couldn't handle the big house anymore, families got bigger and kids moved here and there.....it just isn't the same. Anyone who can, still gets together in the hometown of Battle Creek MI at a time when it's more convenient for all concerned. This year, it's the 29th. A lot of the family still gathers, my sister makes the chop suey and mom is the taster and tells her what is needed. The gifts are now put in individual sacks for each child and of course, mom. Every year we think this will probably be the last Christmas she'll be with us, but she prevails! GO MOM! They still sing Silent Night and Jingle Bells and usually call me so I can join in with them. Now I'm all misty eyed......

SharonG/FL

    Bookmark   November 11, 2007 at 10:37AM
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Rene54

Sharon and Maryliz, boy what memories! I am afraid the next generation is too busy, we are sentamental sub sisters ! But it does the heart good ! ps My Eve Party food was Hot Tamales LOL Rene

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 9:19AM
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maryliz

I just found this great list of holiday traditions!

Page 1href>
Page 2href>

I like the idea of the 24 story books, and reading one together each night until Christmas. You could use library books if you don't want to buy used books.

I also like the idea from the lady who didn't like to slave away in the kitchen all day on Christmas Day. She put her efforts into dinner the night before, then served a make-ahead brunch, then they snacked the rest of the day and had more time to be together. (If you only do it for a special occasion, what's the harm of snacking all day?)

I also like the idea of the interview in front of the video camera. I have done that for birthdays, minus the camera. People love to talk about their accomplishments, and you might discover something very interesting about the person.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 10:06AM
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geezerfolks_SharonG_FL

Maryliz, Speaking of reading books...reminded me I would start the first of December and read to the girls every night....the same Christmas stories, year after year after year. The longest one was The Littlest Shepherd and I'd have to break that up into about 4 nights! Something else I thought of was my dad would always come to our house Christmas morning and watch the girls open their presents and we always had a special stocking for him. Got him out of mom's way while she got things started for the big dinner at one!

SharonG/FL

    Bookmark   November 13, 2007 at 7:08PM
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maryliz

Oh, that is so funny about the "distraction" to let mom get some work done! LOL

    Bookmark   November 14, 2007 at 9:57AM
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maryliz

Another thing that has become a tradition is that my husband's family watches the Detroit Lions football game on Thanksgiving. The Lions always play on Thanksgiving, and they are all football fans, so we watch the game and cheer and groan together.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 4:44PM
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geezerfolks_SharonG_FL

MaryLiz, When we lived up north (MI and IN) we always watched the Lions play, too. I tried to keep it up when we moved to Florida, but I keep falling asleep!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 5:12PM
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anjea

My mother has several different variations of the Night Before Christmas - a Cajun version, an 80's punk version (written by one of her students, it's very good), a hillybilly version, etc. We'd go to midnight services on Christmas Eve, come home and change into pajamas, and we'd each get to read one to the family. That was something I looked forward to every year.

We also had a little Advent tree growing up. My brother's godmother had put it together. There were ornaments to be hung every day, and they corresponded with the story (with a page per day) of Christmas. There was a little extra book that had a poem that was your clue about guessing what the ornament was. We all had our favorite ones and what not. My grandmother always liked to watch us do the Advent tree at night.

Those are the biggest ones from my childhood. DH and I don't have kids yet, so we haven't had the chance to really establish our own traditions. In time...
Anjea

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 12:29AM
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maryliz

Does anyone decorate a gingerbread house for Christmas? We never did that in my family. But I just decorated my own virtual gingerbread house. You have got to see this! It's so neat!

Home Sweet Homehref>

    Bookmark   December 11, 2007 at 4:50PM
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geezerfolks_SharonG_FL

Now, how fun is that!? And, no clean up involved!!!! That's my kind of decorating....

SharonG/FL

    Bookmark   December 12, 2007 at 3:36PM
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