Living in Luxembourg is such a rich experience, especially when it come to discovering different cultures and costumes. In many families Christmas comes with many traditions and this month on the blog, we are sharing some traditions from the volunteers. We would love to hear your traditions and welcome you to share them with us in the comments below.
We like to build a little altar beginning December and then each family member will add little objects they find that remind them of the true meaning of Xmas pertaining to our family’s beliefs.
We’re also quite fond of the alternative types of non-sugar-laden advent calendars where we share a different cup of organic tea each day. Various tea brands stock these (e.g. Pukka, English Tea Shop etc we usually find them at Naturata).
On Christmas eve or Christmas day, we cook together as a family, these past years something vegetarian and yummy.
We also have a family ritual as we’re often away from our South African family during this time. Each of us get a chance to light a candle in front of each family member (we are 4: mom, dad and 2 girls born in 2011 and 2013). Then each get a chance to say what they appreciate about each family member as they light the candle and embrace/sing them something as they feel comfortable/inspired. Then each also get a chance to light a candle for all the family members back home that are not here with us and we enjoy the rest of the day together while the little candles warm our hearts.
Of course, there’s also some Skype sessions with our family back home and we also exchange small gifts with each other but try to keep these not the main focus as well as minimal and eco-friendly.
Growing up in Canada, each year as a family we would to go to the local Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down our own tree. They would have a wagon ride through the farm explaining all the different types of trees (blue spruce, winter pine etc…). After we would drink hot chocolate at home and decorate the tree. Each year my sister and I would fight about who got to put the star on top of the tree, so eventually my mom wrote the year and either of our names on the box so there could be no more arguments! 😂 Now Stephan and I will decide together what we enjoy. It will be our first year (probably only year) without any family around to celebrate with. We are looking forward to making our own new traditions together.
Growing up in South Africa, Christmas is all about summer, sun and family. We would gather at a family members house, the people who lived far would sleep over and it would be a week long celebration of lots of food, family and big ‘Christmas beds’ (bed made up on the floor usually in front of the TV, where all the cousins would sleep). The night before Christmas we would have a big BBQ with lots and lots of salads. We would gather around the Christmas tree and exchange presents afterward the kids would be running around outside playing games or swimming. The night would always end with the younger kids falling asleep wherever they find a soft comfortable space (usually on an adults lap). Christmas morning everyone would be slow getting up and after breakfast there would be some singing and family games.
Growing up tradition – we ate Christmas dinner at lunchtime, so by 3/4pm we were all done, nice and full and sleepy feeling. So to help beat that lull (and give the adults some quiet time from excited kids!) one of the kids would find a clue left behind by a pirate, explaining that he had hidden some treasure and if we could find it, we could keep it!…dressed in full pirate attire, we would follow the clue around the corner to my grandparents house, and all around their house were little messages to help us find the hidden treasure. Slightly less conventional but we LOVED finding clues and extra presents hidden for everyone in the family and would victory march back to our house to distribute pirate gifts to everyone. My uncle still buys us all pirate themed presents to this day and we’re just waiting for the next generation to be old enough for the pirates to come back!
In Germany we have the tradition of the “Advent wreath”. Advent is indeed a very important time for us. It starts 4 weeks before Christmas and it is the religious tradition of the preparation to the arrival of the Christ. Today for most people the religious factor is less present but it still is a time to reflect, slow down, meditate and prepare yourself to Christmas the way you choose. On each of the 4 Sundays before Christmas we light a candle on the wreath. In my family, as long as I can think, this tradition has always been present and on each Sunday we accompanied the lightning of the candle with special Christmas songs. There are quite a lot of them (not speaking of the ones you hear all day long on the radio) and also special ones for the Advent. When I was a child, I remember that we even gathered on some evenings during the week, lit the candle, sang our songs and read Christmas stories. This was a way to finish the day in a slow and cosy way. It is something that marked me very much (in a positive way) and a tradition I want to keep up with my own family now.
Another tradition is the baking of small Christmas cookies. There are LOTS of different recipes and I love to try out new ones, even if there are some classics without which Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas! I remember my parent’s house full of the scent of baking cookies in the oven and myself helping my mother with the preparation.
Definitively my two favorite traditions 🙂
Tradition in Greece was originally to decorate a boat with lights etc. instead of a tree (as Greece has a lot of sea and a nautical heritage). However, nowadays people decorate a Christmas tree as everywhere else.
The Greek tradition added has to do with food (of course)😉 We make delicious nut and almond cookies called ‘Kourabies’ and cookies dipped in honey syrup called ‘melomakarona’ . Both are delicious and usually they don’t make it to New Years Eve😁😁 We eat with the family on Christmas day which is special for me as it’s also my name day (in Greece its equal to birthday!). Usually in Greece presents are exchanged in New Years Eve not Christmas and Santa Claus come on the night of 31st Dec as well.
I must say that for Greek Orthodox Easter is more important than Christmas so I have adopted some foreign traditions in our household such as the Advent wreath that Veronika mentioned 😉 and of course the Advent Calendar that the kids love!!
Anne Louise Littlejohn:
Danish Christmas comes with many traditions and is the most important holiday in most families. Even if we grew up in Luxembourg, my parents tried to keep as many traditions alive as possible. Celebrations start with the Wreath (the Krans) to celebrate the 4 Sundays before Christmas eve with lighting the candles and being together. My sisters birthday is on 21st of December and in order to not deprive her of her celebrations, my mother made sure to only get a tree and decorate it after her birthday. On the night before Christmas eve, we eat Risengrød (rice porridge with sugar and cinnamon) and all children can already open one present. This was to calm the anticipation of waiting for father Christmas. What you would refer to as Elves or Santa’s little helpers in our traditions is Nisser. They are small elf-looking creatures that help father Christmas, but they are also really naughty. They live in the attic and it is important to put out some Risengrød for them so they behave. On Christmas eve we have a huge dinner, followed by singing and dancing around the Christmas tree. Only thereafter can we open presents!! I have fond memories of dancing and singing around the house with my grandpa. I hope I can give the same loving memories to my children.
Merry Christmas everyone!!