17 December 2013

Christmastime Traditions

It's time for Ten on Tuesday again, and this week the topic is:

10  Cultural Traditions You Observe For the Holidays

My background - as you may have guessed - is Irish American, and when my grandparents came here, the idea at the time was to become as American as possible, so you didn't "stick out."  Especially if you were Irish, which was not considered a good thing.  As a result, a lot of the Irish traditions were put aside, so that they could celebrate American Christmas.

However, in the spirit of things, Carole has said that if we do not have a lot of ethnic traditions of our own, we should list 10 Traditions You Observe For The Holidays.  That is what I am going to do, listing a mishmash of family traditions, as well as ones that The Tim and I have created for our own little family.

1.  The definition of Christmastime.  We observe Christmastime beginning December 1 through January 6.  This is something that I have done since childhood.  My mother's birthday was December 2, so we didn't put up any decorations until after that, but we could play Christmas music starting December 1.  And the last day of Christmastime is January 6, the Epiphany, when the Wise Men arrived at the manger.  Decorations never even think of being put away before then.

2.  Christmas Eve.  This has always been a big deal in my family.  It's kind of the ultimate day of anticipation and preparation.  The Tim usually has to work on Christmas Eve, and doesn't usually get home until 7:00 pm or so.  I spend the day doing any last-minute preparations around the house, and making our dinner for that evening, Christmas Eve risotto.  If it's not pouring rain, I like to go out for a little while and walk around enjoying the hustle and bustle.  Once he gets home, we have our dinner, then put on our pjs and watch "It's a Wonderful Life," while having a gin and tonic, then put the gifts under the tree, fill the stockings, and sit in the dark by just the Christmas tree lights until it's time to go to bed.

3.  Christmas Eve Risotto.  A few years back, The Tim found the recipe, and we always have it on Christmas Eve because it has broccoli rabe and red peppers in it - thus red and green!

4.  Baby Jesus gets placed into the manger.  At midnight, our baby Jesus gets placed into the manger, after all of us kiss him and say "Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus."

5.  "It's a Wonderful Life."  This must be watched on Christmas Eve, while having a gin and tonic, and you must be wearing your pajamas.

6.  "The Night Before Christmas" - we always read this aloud on Christmas Eve.

7.  Turnips and holly.  At least one turnip hollowed out to hold a lit candle, and with a sprig of holly next to it must be in one window of the house, so that the Holy Family will know where to stop if they need shelter.  (And don't worry, the candle does not stay lit after we go to bed!)

8.  A too-small dish for the cranberry sauce at Christmas dinner.  This goes for Thanksgiving too, but the cranberry sauce for dinner must be in a dish that is too small.  This is something that we always did growing up, and I found out as an adult that it was just because when my parents were first married, they didn't have a dish large enough for the cranberry sauce!

9.  Holiday cheeseball.  As long as I can remember, my mother would make holiday cheeseball, and for whatever reason, it should only be made between December 22 and 24.  (I have a feeling that this is a case of when she would finally get to it, but I still do it then.)

10.  Kielbasa.  My father's sister married a man from Poland, and they always had a big party on Christmas Eve, which was also my aunt's birthday.  They always had kielbasa, so my father would always fix some for us at our house as well.  Now we make vegetarian kielbasa at Christmastime.  (I will admit that "real" kielbasa is the only meat I actually ever miss, and only at Christmastime ...)

There are other things we do, and that I have always done, but these are the things that came to mind first.  As I said, some are family things, and some we have created ourselves.  They make the whole Christmastime experience better, if you ask me!


Anonymous said...

Your Christmas Eve sounds perfectly relaxing.

Donna said...

I love hearing about everyone's different traditions and cultures. The risotto sounds yummy!

Beverly said...

I might take up your risotto idea!

Mereknits said...

I love It's A Wonderful Life, a Christmas tradition for me too. My kids are not allowed to see any presents under the tree until Christmas morning, just like when I was little it makes things more magical. Love your traditions.

kathy b said...

Turnips and holly!!! that's new to me and I'm adopting your tradition. I love it

steph said...

what a great list of traditions...i do love the turnip and holly the best!!!

Lorette said...

So is the turnip thing common? I've never heard that one. I always forget to put the Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve, so he just goes in when all the decorations go up. I hate to get to Epiphany and find I forgot to get him out.
I have to convince John EVERY YEAR that Christmas is NOT over until Epiphany.