Merry Christmas! I hope yours is full of cheer and happiness. I like to dream about all the new and exciting things I still hope to do in my life, but Christmas to me, is a time of tradition and celebrating the blessings we already have in our lives.
There are a few traditions I’ve grown up with:
- No meat on Christmas Eve (easily done for me!)
- When we were little, we had Advent Calendars given to us from our neighbors (the best, though, was when our parents gave us a Lego one!)
- Also when we were little, we could open ONE present on Christmas Eve
- We throw the crumpled wrapping paper at one another and try to decorate the dogs with the discarded ribbons
- We leave TBS’s marathon of “A Christmas Story” on TV all day
- There was a brick that my relatives would try to disguise and give to one another on random holidays. Not sure who’s in possession of the family brick now
I love the idea of making new Christmastime traditions though! So I thought I’d share some of my favorites that I find fascinating.
Feast of the Seven Fishes
Like I said, no meat on Christmas Eve! Instead, for us Italians, we’re supposed to eat fish and some families go all out. The tradition comes from the Catholic practice of abstaining from meat on holy days. The feast usually has seven different seafood concoctions, but some families do even more. I happen to love fish, so that’s fine by me. Nom!
St. Lucia’s Day
December 13th is St. Lucia’s Day. In Scandinavia, girls dress up wearing white and wear a crown of candles in their hair (Lucia means light, after all). Towns have processions and the Lucias visit churches, hospitals and senior homes with fresh baked buns and biscuits. There are other Yuletide festivities the Scandinavians have that I admire, like glogg, or mulled wine. I did my first attempt at making it myself this year at the BiblioSmiles holiday party. Luckily, it was a success!
Okay, so this one is attributed to the Germans, but it’s really just all us Americans being weird. A pickle tree ornament is hidden on the Christmas tree, and whoever finds the pickle is supposed to win some award. Why a pickle? I don’t know. Nearly every tradition doesn’t make sense if you think about it.
Another Italian goody. I like this story because it’s not overly saccharine, the way a lot of our Christmas stories are. Befana is an old Italian woman who brings gifts to children on Epiphany Eve (January 5). One of the legends say that the three magi took shelter in her home before continuing on their journey, and asked Befana to come with them. She declined, but then changed her mind and set out after them, bringing with her gifts to see the new baby. But she hasn’t been able to find them, so she gives gifts to good children, and coal instead to the naughty ones. Sometimes she sweeps the floor before she leaves. Which is a lot different than gobbling up cookies and milk.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
If you want to celebrate Christmas in Japan, then you have to get in your orders for fried chicken. Some people reserve their KFC barrels up to two months in advance. Apparently, the story goes, is that it was impossible for expats to find turkey in Japan for Christmas day. So, fried chicken was the logical solution. And from there, everyone wanted to welcome in Christmas with KFC. (I still think I’m just going to leave out cookies and milk)
I hope your holiday traditions are equally wonderful (and possibly a little strange, though nothing is so strange as the pooping log)! Enjoy your holidays, hug your loved ones, and find a little peace, before we plunge into the new year.