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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holidays Your Way

posted by Chiot's Run

"Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer.... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?"

~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

There are a lot of influences in our lives that try to tell us how to live, what to buy, what to wear, what to drive, where to live and what to eat. These influences are particularly strong during the holidays with people telling us how we should celebrate, what we need to buy, how we need to decorate and what we need to do to ensure a happy holiday season. It can be tough to back away from the mainstream influences and to keep and develop meaningful holiday traditions for your family.

Mr Chiots and I watched a special on PBS a week or two ago and it highlighted he different Christmas traditions in the countries and regions of Europe. We were delighted by all the different traditions people held and celebrated just as their ancestors had for centuries. We talked a little about our traditions and the traditions here in the United States and how it seems like we've lost a lot of what makes the holidays special in a traditional and cultural way. Perhaps it's because we're a country of many cultures, or perhaps it's the influence of consumerism.

I grew up in Colombia, their Christmas traditions are different than the ones here. Since we were Americans, our celebrations became kind of a mix of Colombian traditions and family traditions. Since my family was very religious, our Christmas celebrations always centered around religious traditions. We always had a nativity set out. We always lit a the angle chimes and read through the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. We enjoyed eggnog and Christmas cookies while opening our gifts on Christmas Eve. We never were a big gift giving family, a few small gifts were it, and generally they were useful items. On Christmas morning we'd wake up to stockings filled with candy and a few small trinkets, then we'd enjoy a big meal of ham and all the usual sides.

Mr Chiots and I have tried to establish a few traditions of our own along with a few family traditions. We set up a nativity set and a few decorations, we exchange a few small gifts, which are generally useful. We enjoy a big breakfast on Christmas morning and always keep the day to ourselves, watching vintage James Bond movies all day. This year I'm planning on incorporating a few Colombian traditions, like eating buñelos with hot chocolate, which are traditional Colombian food for Christmas. My nativity set is handmade from Colombia, and it was our family nativity set. We would love to develop more traditions or pick up some old ones from around the world.

What are some of the holiday traditions that you keep or have developed for your family?


Ria said...

The traditions in my family are un-religious and rather odd, but they've got a special place in my heart. Each Christmas, my parents and I used to engage in a Silly String fight. We'd spray the stuff at each other until the cans ran out, laughing the whole time, getting out frustrations and having good "together time" all in the same moment. It's something I've missed since I moved away from them, and we haven't done it in years, but I still count it as a tradition worth remembering.

Helen said...

celebrated Christmas eve, because my mum is German. It was the msot exciting thing ever - we only decorated the house on Christmas eve, or my parents did anyway. They would send us to a friends house for the day, and when we came home in the evening, everything was sparkling and magical. Then we had to sit through the agony of dinner and singing carols before we were allowed to open gifts. I LOVED it so much, and want to pass this on for sure!

Tree Hugging Mama said...

I haven't seen a candle chime in years. My Oma had one, but her's was tin, yours looks wooden. I wonder where that got to?

Chiot's Run said...

Yes, we always had gold colored metal ones. My mom got this wooden one for my dad for Christmas 5-6 years ago.

Alison said...

My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas stockings from Santa Clause. Every year my 2 sisters and I would be able to get up as early as we wanted to on Christmas morning and open our stockings and any other 'Santa presents.' All other gifts were off-limits until a somewhat-respectable hour, when my parents would finally arise.

My sisters and I still continue the stocking tradition. We live in the same town, and every Christmas morning we open stockings together. (Except now we are drinking the Irish cream and coffee, not our parents!)

It's really fun to carry on this magical tradition with my two boys, age 7 and 6. I don't 'sleep in' like my parents did, preferring to catch every expression of excitement on their little faces, however, they've not yet woken before 5am, or stayed up until 3am in anticipation like we did as teens :)

(My mom had a 'candle chime' when I was a little girl; I'd forgotten all about that! I wonder if she still has it...)

Kristy said...

Love the little candlelit scene... keen to know more about it's history/where it's from if you have the time to spare.

We are getting our own traditions established... slowly... things that I would like my children and grandchildren (one day!) to look forward to every year... and things that mean something to US.

With thanks

Francesca said...

I love that Nativity set, and how you try to incorporate meaningful elements from your background in Colombia into your own traditions. When I grew up, midnight mass on Christmas Eve was the only time we kids were allowed to walk alone in the dark city streets (to go to church). Nothing ever happened, it was very peaceful and festive. I think beneath our different traditions we all strive for peace.

Chiot's Run said...

Here's some great info on the history of angel chimes for those interested:

Kristy said...

Thank you for the history link :)