If you are just joining us please feel free to check out Part 1.
Our family like many this time of year has been jumping from one tradition to another. For us ( my parents and siblings) Christmas has always started at Thanksgiving. We have one Grandmother who lives 300 miles away and have always rotated between Thanksgiving and Christmas from year to year when we would see her. If it was our year to visit her on Thanksgiving then that is when we celebrated Christmas with her.
If Thanksgiving started us then New Years was our ending point. My father and his twin brother are January 2nd babies. Therefore we would celebrate their birthdays New Years Eve and also Christmas between the two families would be then.
Through in Christmas programs at church, “Santa Coming” via parade on Black Friday, a couple of birthdays, Christmas Eve, and of course Christmas Day we are definitely a SEASON of Christmas kind of family.
In honor of this and in effort to create new traditions with my own family I have been looking into other families in other countries and their traditions to find ways to increase the celebration and the season. (This year I’m aiming for Epiphany January 6!)
Here are a the first set of 25 traditions I have discovered that you can do ( or at least illustrate) at home. Please note that I am a Christian by faith and have worked hard to find traditions that will not compromise my beliefs while teaching my son of other cultures. I’m sorry if I missed something while doing that. It is not my intention to offend. I am just sharing what I feel comfortable with. Please feel free to share your own traditions in the comments! I’m always looking to learn more! Also much of my research was done through this site. I apologize if there are discrepancies.
25 Christmas Traditions You Can do At Home:
14. In Ireland they place red candles, decorated with Holly, in the windows on Christmas Eve to guide Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. While I don’t recommend lighting candles so low for small hands wouldn’t it be elegant to have a least a table center piece done this way?
15. In Israel, Christian homes are marked by a cross painted over the door. This reminds me of Passover.
16. Italian children spend the week before Christmas going from house to house singing Christmas carols and reciting poems. They are rewarded with money to buy Christmas gifts. What a great way to start your little ones earning their own Christmas Spending money! (Of course they should probably just carol through the house or to grandparents. Unless you have indulgent neighbors, that is.)
17. Mexico is the native home of the Poinsettia. The legend says that a young boy named Pablo was walking to church on Christmas Eve. He had no gifts to lay at the Nativity for the Christ Child so he stopped and gathered some greens. The other children scoffed. Yet, when he laid the branches at the Nativity Red Star Flowers appeared on each one. You can find a cute poinsettia craft here.
18. In Nicaragua, each evening family prayers followed by singing and refreshments are the evening past time from December 16th until Christmas Eve Mass. Their Christmas card are white and plain. You can find a lovely example here. In our home we are using a Christmas Scripture count down for Advent. I don’t think Ther would complain if we added a snack.
19. Norway is the birthplace of the Yule Log. While many people celebrate with a dessert Yule Log like this chocolate one, my family has a different approach. My mom and grandmother take a crusty loaf of bread (usually Italian) and slice it lengthwise in three layers. on the first layer they put tuna salad. (Think a simple tuna sandwich.) the next layer is egg salad. Then the entire loaf gets covered with softened cream cheese and topped with green olives and/or black olives. It makes a wonderful lite lunch or appetizer.
20. In Poland, the star is the main theme. Christmas dinner is twelve courses representing the twelve disciples. After it the Star Man arrives attended by Star Boys dressed as figures from the Nativity. The Star Man drills the children on their catechism and rewards their efforts with gifts. Perhaps Ther could earn a separate gift as he recites the story of Baby Jesus’ birth.
21. Portuguese children await the arrival of the Wise Men. On January 5th they leave shoes on the windowsills filled with hay and carrots in hopes to lore the Magi’s horses to their homes. Epiphany finds the shoes filled with candied fruit and sweet breads. My boys are going to start leaving their shoes every where in hopes of gifts!
22. Puerto Rico’s custom of the Mass of Carols is probably my favorite in the list. Nine days before Christmas begins a daily 5:30 mass filled with music. Many times the caroling continues has they head to work or home. Now is that not the most peaceful way to start the day? In glorious song for our Savior’s birth.
23. In Venezuela they celebrate Christmas with Misa de Aguinaldo or “Early Morning Mass” each morning from December 16th until the 24th. In Caracas , the capital city, it is customary to roller-skate to this mass. It is not uncommon to find some roads closed to cars until 8 am to make way for the skaters. This is one tradition that may have to wait a year for skates but perhaps a living or dining room roller rink would be in order for one day?
24. Many Countries celebrate Boxing Day on December 26th. It’s a day for giving to those in need. Stemming from boxed gifts for servants and the poor boxes of the church’s being opened on this day. Now rather than return those unwanted gifts, what act of kindness can your family perform?
25. In Scotland, Hogmanay, on New Years is the celebration of choice. They start by cleaning on New Years Eve and in times past they would even try to be sure any old debt was paid of by midnight so they could start the New Year free and clear. ( I cherish the thought!) One custom to which many of us are at least somewhat familiar is the singing of Robert Burn’s Auld Lang Syne. They stand in a circle arms crossed, grasping the hands of the persons on either side and sing with gusto!
I hope you have enjoyed these lovely traditions as much as I have. Please feel free to leave a glimpse of you family traditions in the comments!