Catholic Traditions for Christmas


#1

We’ve just adopted two children (8 &7) and we want to put the real meaning in Christmas. Can anyone help with unique traditions that you may have shared with your family that have become meaningful. It seems most relatives think in regards to gift giving and receiving.


#2

Congratulations on your adoptions! I know that adoptions are usually very expensive, but here is a tradition that we had some years in our family. We would go on a Christmas pilgrimage. We only went twice, once to the Basillica in Washington DC and the other time to Mother Angelica’s shrine in Alabama. You will be bonding through family time, having an adventure, being in a very Catholic atmosphere, and away from all the material stuff at home.

I think that just suddenly stopping the gift giving or limiting it drastically will not go over well with the kids (unless they’re used to not receiving Christmas presents). We also would give a small $10-20 gift to everyone in our immediate family (parents and siblings) and then our parents would give us all some money to spend after Christmas, when the stores calm down and everything goes on sale.


#3

This is the first year DH, DS, and I will be home for Christmas. We have discussed what we want our family to get out of Advent and Christmas and have come up with a list of activites and prayers we are going to use throughout the season.

First, we will be using an Advent wreath to count along the days of Advent with the Church. Last night we had an opening prayer and brief reading from Sacred Scripture to help set the tone for Advent. Every night we will be lighting the candles for that week and receiting a short antiphon (the “O” Antiphons of Advent) asking for Our Lord to come into our lives this Christmas.

Secondly, we will be doing a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is used to follow the geneology of Christ from God forming Adam and Eve to Christ’s birth. Each day DS and I will design and make an ornament to go on our (currently bare) Christmas tree. Each ornament will represent one of the ancestors of Christ. At night, as a family, we will gather together to pray and light the Advent wreath, then listen to a short reading about the ancestor of Christ we learned about that day. Then we will hang our ornament on the tree. We will also be adding a ribbon (purple or pink) for each day of Advent.

On the vigil of Christmas, we will add our last ornament: a chi-rho symbol announcing that Christ has come into our world. Then we will remove the Jesse tree ornaments and decorate the Christmas tree. (BTW, this also solves the problem I had of putting up the tree and DS getting into the ornaments all advent).

Lastly, we will have our empty manger from the nativty scene on our family alter with the Advent wreath. DS and I will recite a short prayer each morning after our normal morning prayers asking Jesus to prepare a place in our hearts for Him this Advent as we prepare a place for Him in our home. On Christmas Eve day, Our Lady and St. Joseph (and their donkey) will arrive at the manger. Later that evening, when the vigil has begun, DS (the youngest member of our house, as the tradition goes) will be allowed to place the Infant Jesus in the manger, and the angels (well, right now we only have one) will arrive to adore Him.

This is how we have it worked out in theory. Like I said, this is our first year doing this. DH and I were both raised in houses where Santa was the biggest part of Christmas, no emphasis on Advent and very little on Christ. So we are learning as we go. I like the old German tradition of the adults decorating the tree and revealing it to the children on Christmas Eve. It would fit in nicely with what we are doing, we could even have baby Jesus in the manger and have the kids come in and oooh! ahhh! Baby Jesus is here and the tree is decorated andt here are presents!

After Christmas we are going to try and leave our decorations up until the Epiphany- some of the decorations on the tree may have to come down depending on how good DS is. The nativity will definitely be left out and the Magi brought out. We are going to start them on one side of the room and every night after prayers we will move them closer to the nativity. On the Eve of the Epiphany they will arrive at the nativity to adore Our Lord. I am not sure whatelse we will do for that day yet.

Some great websites for ideas for feast days are www.catholicculture.com and www.domestic-church.com.

Good luck!


#4

Sorry, that should be www.catholicculture.org.

Also, look into the great feast of St. Nicholas on Dec 6. It is a very Catholic way to celebrate the life of a saint and still do “Santa”.


#5

Here are lots of ideas at Catholic Culture
for Advent
catholicculture.org/lit/overviews/seasons/Advent/

and Christmas
catholicculture.org/lit/overviews/seasons/christmas/index.cfm

Here are some good Christmas book ideas
4reallearning.com/

Here’s a great St Nicholas site
stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=23

More Advent and Christmas ideas from Women for Faith and Family
wf-f.org/AdventSeason.html
wf-f.org/ChristmasSeason.html

Here’s what we do:
We put out our advent wreath and light it every night at dinner and do the readings.
We hang a hand made Advent Calendar and add an ornament everynight.
I set up 2-3 nativities–one nice one up high and 2 the children can play act with. Jesus/manger will stay hidden until Christmas and I may add the wise men’s journey this year.
We’ll celebrate St Nicolas Day and the children will get little gifts that day.
We’ll get our tree up in the next several weeks, depending on weather, schedules etc. I want to wait longer this year so I can make it through the 12 days of Christmas to Epiphany with out going crazy.
I also want to do more for the 12 days this year. I have to decide what we’ll do, but Catholic Culture has ideas for each day.

Hope that helps.


#6

Midnight Mass


#7

Thank you for all the great input. I will definitely check out the recommended websites. Love the ideas!


#8

[quote=bjj]We’ve just adopted two children (8 &7) and we want to put the real meaning in Christmas. Can anyone help with unique traditions that you may have shared with your family that have become meaningful. It seems most relatives think in regards to gift giving and receiving.
[/quote]

Immediatelygo to abebooks.com and purchase *The Christmas Book * by Francis Weiser.

It contains beautiful ancient Catholic Christmas traditions that will not only provide for a wonderful family experience but will instill in your children a joy and wonder in the faith. It sells for about $6.

Your kids will thank you fifteen years from now when they begin their lives away from home.

I’m telling you–buy it now. :slight_smile:


#9

I think the best advice I can give you is to use Advent as preparation time, and DON’T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS UNTIL IT GETS HERE.

I have a really good book called To Dance With God (no, it does not contain “Lord of the Dance” ideas). One of the biggest points was that we need to prepare our hearts and our homes. It really helpe dus de-junk the Advent period.

So make the Christmas cookies…and put them away until Christmas. Don’t put up the tree until Christmas. Let St. Nicholas Day (December 6) be that day of small gifts and treats in Advent. Use a Jesse Tree or Advent wreath or calendar. Don’t put Baby Jesus in the crib until his arrival.

And congratulations!!!


#10

We start preparing at advent with an advent wreath, our decorations start to go up then also. Nativity scene out, w/out Jesus until Christmas. Keep all the decorations up until the feast of the nativity January 6th.


#11

We have decorations that mean something to each child in our family that go up at Grandma and Auntie’s house. Your new little one’s could choose their very first decorations, and each year pick a new decoration of their own…a new tradition!


#12

Celebrate Advent and all the saints days it contains. Our teens still like getting a small gift and candy in their shoes on St. Nicholas Day :slight_smile: --KCT


#13

the first thing that came to mind was my rule that if it is heavily advertised on TV in November you will not be getting it for Christmas, so don’t ask (that goes for you too, hubby).

the second custom was having our gift exchange on Christmas eve, since that was in-laws custom, going to midnight Mass, and getting up to serve dinners at Salvation Army on Christmas day (me and the kids, men watched football).

third thing was a Christmas puzzle or contest which has gotten more involved every year and is now a highlight. this year it is a story writing contest, the details of which are too complex to relate.


#14

When my husband and I were newlyweds, one of the “big problems” we had was compromising on when to put up the Christmas tree! In my family we had always put it up right after Thanksgiving, and took it down the day or two after Christmas. In his family, they waited until Christmas eve to even put up the tree! So now we compromise and the tree goes up around the 15th of Dec, and it stays up all through Epiphany. It really does make us stop and think that Christmas doesn’t end on Christmas Day. It only begins then. We have the nativity set in a spot where we all see it every day. This helps us to remember the “reason for the season”. And of course the Advent wreath. God bless. Happy and Holy Advent to all!


#15

[quote=kristacecilia]This is the first year DH, DS, and I will be home for Christmas. We have discussed what we want our family to get out of Advent and Christmas and have come up with a list of activites and prayers we are going to use throughout the season.

First, we will be using an Advent wreath to count along the days of Advent with the Church. Last night we had an opening prayer and brief reading from Sacred Scripture to help set the tone for Advent. Every night we will be lighting the candles for that week and receiting a short antiphon (the “O” Antiphons of Advent) asking for Our Lord to come into our lives this Christmas.

Secondly, we will be doing a Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is used to follow the geneology of Christ from God forming Adam and Eve to Christ’s birth. Each day DS and I will design and make an ornament to go on our (currently bare) Christmas tree. Each ornament will represent one of the ancestors of Christ. At night, as a family, we will gather together to pray and light the Advent wreath, then listen to a short reading about the ancestor of Christ we learned about that day. Then we will hang our ornament on the tree. We will also be adding a ribbon (purple or pink) for each day of Advent.

On the vigil of Christmas, we will add our last ornament: a chi-rho symbol announcing that Christ has come into our world. Then we will remove the Jesse tree ornaments and decorate the Christmas tree. (BTW, this also solves the problem I had of putting up the tree and DS getting into the ornaments all advent).

Lastly, we will have our empty manger from the nativty scene on our family alter with the Advent wreath. DS and I will recite a short prayer each morning after our normal morning prayers asking Jesus to prepare a place in our hearts for Him this Advent as we prepare a place for Him in our home. On Christmas Eve day, Our Lady and St. Joseph (and their donkey) will arrive at the manger. Later that evening, when the vigil has begun, DS (the youngest member of our house, as the tradition goes) will be allowed to place the Infant Jesus in the manger, and the angels (well, right now we only have one) will arrive to adore Him.

This is how we have it worked out in theory. Like I said, this is our first year doing this. DH and I were both raised in houses where Santa was the biggest part of Christmas, no emphasis on Advent and very little on Christ. So we are learning as we go. I like the old German tradition of the adults decorating the tree and revealing it to the children on Christmas Eve. It would fit in nicely with what we are doing, we could even have baby Jesus in the manger and have the kids come in and oooh! ahhh! Baby Jesus is here and the tree is decorated andt here are presents!

After Christmas we are going to try and leave our decorations up until the Epiphany- some of the decorations on the tree may have to come down depending on how good DS is. The nativity will definitely be left out and the Magi brought out. We are going to start them on one side of the room and every night after prayers we will move them closer to the nativity. On the Eve of the Epiphany they will arrive at the nativity to adore Our Lord. I am not sure whatelse we will do for that day yet.

Some great websites for ideas for feast days are www.catholicculture.com and www.domestic-church.com.

Good luck!
[/quote]

Krista-- do what we do – put ornaments at the 3ft or higher level…LOL – or just put the soft ornaments (ones that won’t break) down low…and let him have fun! I gave up after the first year…just put the safe stuff down there and kept re-hanging it all…LOL – we don’t do ornaments until Christmas eve – something we did in my family --everyone came down at 8pm and we decorated, complete with mom and dad hanging their “love bird” ornament for a photo op…


#16

leaner,

Krista-- do what we do – put ornaments at the 3ft or higher level…LOL – or just put the soft ornaments (ones that won’t break) down low…and let him have fun!

This is what was done last year. We’ll probably end up doing something like that again this year. Frankly, he is not all that bad about touching things he isn’t supposed to. I am just afraid it will be too much of a temptation… all that shiny, glittery wonderful stuff for him to touch!

We may end up just leaving the Jesse tree ornaments on the tree this year since they are all paper anyway. We can always do our other ornaments when the kids are older.


#17

It is a Southern Italian tradition (which Sicilians also follow) – Christmas Eve is the big family get together (the waiting or standing vigil for Jesus). We eat no meat for dinner (and being Italian-Americans, a holiday dinner takes about 5 hours!). Tradition is that it is to thank the animals for allowing Jesus to be born in the stable.

As I said, this is more of an Italian tradition than Catholic, but I am one of those that believe my Italian heritage is so tied up in Catholicism to be indistinguishable.


#18

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.