Please share your CHRISTmas traditions, the more old fashioned the better!The ENTIRE CHRISTmas Season!


#1

Hi,

I am looking for old fashioned, traditional ideas of what Catholics do on Christmas eve,
Christmas Day, New Years eve, New Years Day, the Epiphany/January 6th ?

When do you open gifts?
And if you do not have Santa in your celebrations, who & or what brings the toys
on Christmas Day ? A friend of mine, said she grew up with BABY JESUS dropping off
the gifts. Do any of you do this?
Does Baby Jesus drop off gifts on Christmas Day
in your home ?

Do you also celebrate the EPIPHANY in style as well,
do you open up gifts on that day as well ?
She told me that the 3 Wise Men/Magi delivered gifts
to her as a child, which sounds so sweet!:D
Do you also have a Cake on the Epiphany?

Again, whatever traditions you have, please explain if they
come from a certain country,
or if they are old fashiopned Catholic traditions.
Also, do you go to the TLM Mass or the NO Mass, and what is that like in your Parish ?

In addition, what do you eat on Christmas eve, what about on Christmas Day,
on New Years Eve & New Years Day, on the Epiphany?
Do you have a BIrthday Cake for Baby Jesus ?

How long do you keep your Manger & or Tree up for ?

Thanks for your help!:thumbsup:
Peace!


#2

We are past the point of presents with our kids, they aren't spoiled but they aren't deprived either, we just give them money now. It may sound cold but they can either buy something or save it. Our older son saved his birthday and Christmas money for several years and paid for his first flying lessons with it, so it was great to see him finally enjoy the gifts!

We go to the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. We always go to the Saturday vigil Mass anyway, and my husband does not like all the people at the Christmas day Masses. Our church is usually quite casual so even on Christmas some people will wear jeans. This does not bother me. We are a modern congregation - no Latin! :(

We do not open presents on Christmas Eve. I never did growing up, we had to wait until Christmas morning. It was fun when the kids were small, putting them to bed and anticipating their faces in the morning when they saw what Santa had brought in their stockings. I miss those days!

In years past, I have done a beef eye of round on Christmas. My FIL fixes a different kind of dish for Thanksgiving, so I do Christmas dinner. So the roast beef, potatoes, gravy, salad, peas, bread. Some form of dessert but that's not locked-in.

My FIL is the only family member on either side who lives nearby, so he comes to Mass and then over the next day for the meal.

I put the creche out first, before I put up the tree. I try to get it out the day after Thanksgiving, and nothing comes down before Epiphany. I haven't done anything huge on Epiphany - just Mass as usual.

great question and i will look forward to what everyone else does! Who knows, we might pick up a new tradition or two!


#3

I am a convert of 6 years and the rest of my family are United Methodist, but this is what we do.

At church Father will not allow any Christmas decorations until after Mass on the 4th Sunday of Advent, so anyone who wants to stays after Mass to decorate. We have a big manger we put up on one side and on the other side we put a Christmas tree and lots of poinsettas. Some poinsettas are put under the altar, but nothing can detract from the altar.

At home for years, even before becoming a Catholic I have an Advent candle I put on my coffee table and light them and do the devotions all through Advent.

On Christmas eve I go to church with my husband and then I go to Mass afterwards. I love the midnight Mass. Both of my sons are grown, so it changes each year as to when we open gifts, sometimes Christmas Eve, sometimes Christmas Eve.

I put up my olive wood nativity set I bought in Bethlehem in 1987 during the 3rd week of advent or later and it does stay up unitl Epiphany.

We put up our tree about a week or two before Christmas as we always get a real tree and it needs to be down by New Years. My tree has lots of religous ornaments. Bulbs that say Jesus is the reason for the season, keep Christ in Christmas, nativity sets, angels etc.

I have some small nativity sets up and one of my favorite is my statue of Jesus on his knees praying to Jesus. I have a stuffed nativity set I put on the floor in front of the tree and my grandsons play with it. In fact last night my 3 grandsons were helping me decorate and the 7 year old and the 5 year old were telling their brother 2 1/2 about Jesus being born in the manger telling him who Mary and Joseph are. I am so glad that they are learning that in their United Methodist Sunday school and at home.

I know we could be more religious. I hope this helps.


#4

Posadas!

I am of Mexican descent and grew up in El Paso, TX. Growing up, it was always exciting when my *padrinos *(godparents) helped plan the posadas which took place in our parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe back in the 1970s.

Posadas are a commemoration of Joseph and Mary's search for lodging in Bethlehem. When I was young, they always took place in a neighborhood near the church. Several homes were chosen as stopping points along the way to the house where the big celebration was to be held. A man and woman were chosen to be Joseph and Mary (in our present parish in New Mexico, a parishioner volunteers the service of his pet donkey for Mary to ride!) and led the procession of parishioners carrying candles or lanterns from house to house. At each home, they sang and asked for "posada"--lodging--and the occupants of the house would refuse (in song) then join the procession as they went to the next house. Usually they would visit four or five homes before finding lodging--the last house on the procession would admit them all and there would be a prayer service and feast. Tamales would be featured, along with a hot chocolate and cornmeal beverage, flavored with anise and cinnamon, known as *champurrado *(an acquired taste, my New York-born husband will assure you!) The highlight, for the children, would be to break open a pinata (quick course, in case someone doesn't know: a pinata is a hollow papier-mache container, sometimes made in the shape of a bull or donkey, decorated in bright paper and filled with sweets, nuts and fruit. Children take turns being blindfolded and given a stick with which to break open the pinata, which is suspended on a rope from the ceiling.) The traditional design was a 7-pointed star (the seven points representing the 7 deadly sins) and when it was broken open, the children would scramble for candy, nuts and fruit.

This tradition seems to be fading in certain places, but I'm grateful that our parish here in New Mexico still continues (they join with the Methodist church down the road to have posadas on two nights--one night ending at the Catholic church, the other night at the Methodist church.)

On January 6 (Epiphany--which is traditionally when gifts are given in Mexico) I usually plan a big Mexican dinner for the family (we live closer to my husband's family than mine) which culminates with dessert--*Rosca de los Reyes. *This is a sweet yeast bread, baked in the shape of a ring (rosca) and decorated with frosting and candied fruits to resemble a king's crown. Hidden inside the bread is a tiny figure of the Baby Jesus. Whoever gets the piece with the Baby Jesus is supposed to host a party on February 2 (Candlemas Day) which officially ends the Christmas season!


#5

What a lovely idea for a thread! I, too look forward to the responses. Here is some of what we do;

We begin the season by setting up our Nativity the weekend after Thanksgiving. I have a large Manger that was made by my grandmother’s great uncle many years ago and it was passed on to my husband and I when we celebrated our first Christmas together. We leave the Baby Jesus out of the crib and set the three wise men in the room the furthest away from the Manger. The children get to take turns moving the three wise men a little closer to the Manger each day until they reach their destination on the Feast of Epiphany. In the evening (of the day we put up the Nativity), we have a little Blessing of the Crib ceremony. It is lead by my husband, and each child has a part to read and we end it by sprinkling the crib with Holy Water and singing, Away in the Manger.

The first Sunday of Advent, the older children gather greenery and put together the Advent Wreath and set it in the middle of the table where it stays until Christmas Eve. We have it decorated with deep purples for Advent and remove the purple and replace it with bright red, silver and gold decorations on Christmas Eve to begin the Celebration of Baby Jesus’s birth. We also have an Advent program that we follow for prayers each Sunday of Advent.

We always cut down our Christmas tree, usually the second weekend in December. The only reason we do it that weekend is my girls dance in The Nutcracker and the performance is usually the first weekend in December. There is a beautiful Blessing of a Christmas Tree for the Home program that we follow. Many of these prayers are found in a little pamphlet I received from my mother called, Traditional Family Customs For Christmas.

Dec. 6th, we celebrate St. Nicholas Day with the day off from school (we homeschool) and have a St. Nicholas party. I make a cake in the shape of a candy cane and we set our statue of St. Nicholas in the center of our table, next to the advent wreath. Face down under each family member’s dinner plate is a little card with a picture of something related to Christmas and a little poem to Baby Jesus or some little fun fact about St. Nicholas. After grace, each child gets to retrieve his/her card and read to all his poem or fact. Some of the children are too little to read yet, so they proudly show off their picture to everyone. (I make the cards).

Christmas Eve, we celebrate with Chinese food (old family tradition) and pizza. Before we eat, we gather around the Manger and sing, Silent Night and my husband reads the story of the Birth of Jesus from the Gospel of St. Luke. We then exchange our St. Nicholas gifts (we pick names for each other on Thanksgiving) and conclude with singing Adeste Fideles.

On beautiful Christmas morning the youngest child gets the honor of putting Baby Jesus in His crib and we sing Happy Birthday. The children then get to open their presents that St. Nicholas brought them, have a quick breakfast of cinnamon rolls and off to Mass we go.

For Christmas dinner, it is tradition to have turkey, two stuffings/dressings (one, my maternal grandmother’s recipe and the other my fraternal grandmother’s recipe), sweet potatoes, squash, and all the other condiments that go with it.

Our tree and Nativity stay set up until after epiphany. On epiphany, we make a king’s cake, have a king’s party and the three wise men finally make it to their destination to adore the baby Jesus. :slight_smile:


#6

Beautiful traditions!!!:thumbsup:

Please pass them down to your children & keep them ALIVE!
I am looking forward to hearing some more
family traditions, from different states, countries, etc.
Thanks!
Peace.


#7

[quote="TheRealJuliane, post:2, topic:222491"]
We are past the point of presents with our kids, they aren't spoiled but they aren't deprived either, we just give them money now. It may sound cold but they can either buy something or save it. Our older son saved his birthday and Christmas money for several years and paid for his first flying lessons with it, so it was great to see him finally enjoy the gifts!

We go to the Vigil Mass on Christmas Eve. We always go to the Saturday vigil Mass anyway, and my husband does not like all the people at the Christmas day Masses. Our church is usually quite casual so even on Christmas some people will wear jeans. This does not bother me. We are a modern congregation - no Latin! :(

We do not open presents on Christmas Eve. I never did growing up, we had to wait until Christmas morning. It was fun when the kids were small, putting them to bed and anticipating their faces in the morning when they saw what Santa had brought in their stockings. I miss those days!

In years past, I have done a beef eye of round on Christmas. My FIL fixes a different kind of dish for Thanksgiving, so I do Christmas dinner. So the roast beef, potatoes, gravy, salad, peas, bread. Some form of dessert but that's not locked-in.

My FIL is the only family member on either side who lives nearby, so he comes to Mass and then over the next day for the meal.

I put the creche out first, before I put up the tree. I try to get it out the day after Thanksgiving, and nothing comes down before Epiphany. I haven't done anything huge on Epiphany - just Mass as usual.

great question and i will look forward to what everyone else does! Who knows, we might pick up a new tradition or two!

[/quote]

Beautiful!

Thanks!:thumbsup:


#8

Ok, I will like to share with you how Xmas is spent in two countries I have spent time in—Germany and Cameroon.

Part 1

In Germany, the feeling of Xmas actually takes shape on the first Sunday of Advent when the opening of the Weihnachtsmarkt ushers in Advent. Advent seems to be the best time of the year for many people over here because of the Christmas market. It is packed at night with people jostling their way through from one stall to another. There, one could get seasonal bakery products, Christmas decorations, Glühwein—mulled wine etc. At least for the guys I know, they visit the Weihnachtsmarkt simply to enjoy some Glühwein, which is normally served hot and thus helps repel the chilly winter air. In our diocese, the Church also has a role to play in the Christmas market. The German relief organisation ADVENIAT has its own “stall”. Their usual Advent activities organised there attract people to make donations to their projects.

Most Christmas markets close shortly before Christmas. One could say that Xmas over here is actually celebrated on the 24th. It is the day when the gifts are opened. The vigil mass on this day is crowded and if you are not early enough, you would have to stand at the back.

On the first day of Christmas i.e. on the 25th—actually there are two days of Christmas over here: 25th and 26th just as there are two days of Easter, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday as well as Pentecost Sunday and Monday (lots of public holidays :))—the actual birth of Christ, the lights are turned off. Xmas is actually over. The Church is more or less empty on the 25th since most people attend the vigil mass.
People spend time indoors with close relatives. Outside is like a ghost town. Actually, in front of my right now is an article written by one of our priests about Christmas. The title is something like “Christmas is the feast day when the lights are turned off”.

During the Advent/Xmas season, the streets and most homes are bedecked with fairy light strings…The lights are probably turned on on the first Sunday of Advent and unfortunately turned off on Xmas day at least according to our priest who wrote reminding parishioners that Xmas is actually the day to turn on the lights or at least keep the lights turned on to signify the birth of Christ, who brought light into the world.

On the 2nd day of Christmas, the family chain is slightly broken for people to visit their friends or welcome friends.

Similarly, the party is on New Year’s Eve.

Epiphany is just like any other Sunday.


#9

Part 2

In Cameroon, I spent most of my life in a boarding school—which is relatively in fashion. We were normally released from the jail—as we called it—a couple of days before Christmas day. After spending almost 4 months in school, we were just too excited to go back home for Christmas, the time when you get to eat and drink those things you normally would rarely eat and drink outside of Xmas, Easter and Assumption (“Big Day Maria” as it is locally called) worse of all in school.

We normally spend the few days before Christmas cleaning in and around the house—removing cobwebs, dusting the louvers and decorating our Christmas tree—a cypress tree, which is the conifer common in that area as opposed to the fir tree in other areas.

Over there, a simple Xmas tree is adorned with Xmas lights and balloons as opposed to Xmas lights and ornaments over here. I said this same thing to a couple of people the other day and one of them kind of exclaimed “Balloons?” and I told her “Yes, balloons”. Well, I neither know the history of the balloons nor the ornaments but when I compare a simple Xmas tree decked with lights and multicoloured balloons with that decked with lights and ornaments, all I notice are beautifully decorated Xmas trees. :)

Over there, it is common to attach candies on the Xmas tree. Apparently, when I visit anybody’s house, the first place I go to is the Xmas tree in order to harvest something from it. :)

I can’t remember if I used to go to Church on the 24th but there is nothing so some special about the 24th apart from the preparations for the 25th.

Now when it comes to gifts, those days are long gone. When we were kids, what was really common to receive from our parents was our Christmas dress and that was usually before Christmas. Xmas was the day to put on your best outfit (as kids). I had some permanent Xmas toys my mom used to give me during this period. She normally confiscated them afterwards only to release them again during the next Xmas season. :mad: Well, it wasn’t annoying as such. Instead it made Xmas a wonder period since I get to have at my disposal those things that I so desired.

As I grew older, it soon became history. So for us or better still in our family, we don’t exchange presents as they do over here.

Now comes Christmas day, 25th December. It is the day we actually celebrate and not the 24th. It used to be my best day on earth.
We normally have a buffet that comprised of our best or 1st class dishes. We mostly had a similar buffet only on Easter and 15th August.

Xmas is like an open day over there. Actually, it is one of those days we leave our front door wide open. The door blind is only drawn to prevent dust from swirling in.
We spend part of the day with our extended family—at least 20 relatives. :) The other part of the day is spent visiting neighbours and friends. It is common to find children playing outside with seasonal balloons.

Similarly, there is nothing so special about New Year’s Eve—at least in the countryside where we live. In the big towns, they probably have some midnight activities. For us, we celebrate New Year’s Day itself. Again, it’s all about visiting friends or welcoming visitors.

After New Year, most (if not all) of the balloons on the Xmas tree must have burst or shrank. All the candies must have vanished. So it is common to get rid of the tree after New Year shortly before returning back to school.

By Epiphany, schools have already resumed so it is also just a normal Sunday.


#10

We make sure it stays Advent until Christmas. We don't get a tree until Christmas Eve and don't decorate for Christmas until Christmas Eve. We fully celebrate Advent throughout the season. Then - we celebrate each day of Christmas by honoring each day.


#11

[quote="tcardine2002, post:10, topic:222491"]
We make sure it stays Advent until Christmas. We don't get a tree until Christmas Eve and don't decorate for Christmas until Christmas Eve. We fully celebrate Advent throughout the season. Then - we celebrate each day of Christmas by honoring each day.

[/quote]

This was my family tradition regarding Christmas eve but I never met anyone else....


#12

I’ve tried to preserve/dig up some older traditions, but many of them are either new ideas (as far as I know), or are modifications of the old traditions.

We are decorated for Advent until Christmas Eve. The Tree is decorated as a Jesse Tree until Christmas Eve, when it the simple purple ornaments are removed, and the Christmas Ornaments are put on. On Christmas Eve, the Advent wreath is replaced by a Christmas Candle, and Advent prayers (said before dinner) are replaced by short prayers of Christmas Joy.

Christmas Eve dinner - I have tried to take from the traditions of our ancestors, but the fact that we have about 6 different cultures to take from, that I am not a great cook, and that the family doesn’t love all the traditional food, requires me modify it. I would like to eventually combine the Italian Feast of the 7 Fishes, and the Polish Wigila. Now, we are limited to Tilapia and Crab Soup for fish, and the Polish Oplatek and “12 dishes” (loosely counted, including condiments and drinks) total (even though it seems that the Polish usually picked 11 or 13 dishes). Braided bread (in the shape of a wreath - representing the trinity and everlasting life) is traditional for several cultures - I have only managed to make a braided Challah (We have no Jewish ancestry, but I think they deserve a little shout-out at our cultural meal). We do go meatless for Christmas Eve according to tradition. We also attend Mass on Christmas Eve. I haven’t worked my way up to the Midnight Mass, but it is a goal - tough with little kids who wake up early no matter what.

Christmas Gifts are received on Christmas Day. We do not DO Santa, so the gifts come from Mom and Dad. Stockings are filled overnight with candy/food treats, a dated Christmas ornament for each child, and a piece of interesting, unique, or yummy fruit. Prior to any of this, the family processes from the bedrooms to the living area (singing Joy to the World of course), and places the babies Jesus (we have more than one) in the mangers. On Christmas Day, we go to Mass again, even if we went the night before.

On the feast of the Holy Family (which interestingly, seems not to be getting any celebration this year b/c of New Year’s being on Sunday), we have the kids give gifts to each other. They are too young to really spend $$, so instead we have them each make a simple crafty decoration, and draw names from a hat about who to give it to (kept a secret). New Year (the Feast of Mary Mother of God) is often spent at my parents house, eating whatever they choose to cook. We don’t really make a big deal of this feast, other than making sure to get to Mass. It is the end of the Octave of Christmas, so it does make sense to make a big deal of it.

Epiphany, while not the main celebration, does get a lot of attention. We do the traditional house blessing with the chalk over the doors, and we have a little procession to the baby Jesus, as though we are the Wise Men. I also give 3 gifts to the family as a whole. A puzzle, a book, and a game. Sometimes I will get more than one book/puzzle/game (d/t the different ages and abilities to enjoy them of the kids), but they are packaged as one gift each, so that there are still only 3.

Decorations stay up until after Epiphany, sometimes to the Baptism of the Lord. I rarely have the patience to keep them up beyond that to the Presentation. I try to get everyone to dress in their Christmas clothes not just on Christmas day, but also throughout the Christmas season.


#13

When do you open gifts?
We open gifts with my side of the family Christmas Eve at my house. THen after they leave, we try to stay awake for midnight Mass by opening gifts to each other (immediate family-me, my husband and my kids).

And if you do not have Santa in your celebrations, who & or what brings the toys
on Christmas Day ? A friend of mine, said she grew up with BABY JESUS dropping off
the gifts. Do any of you do this?
Does Baby Jesus drop off gifts on Christmas Day
in your home ?

We do Santa. He brings gifts Christmas morning.

Do you also celebrate the EPIPHANY in style as well,
do you open up gifts on that day as well ?
No

She told me that the 3 Wise Men/Magi delivered gifts
to her as a child, which sounds so sweet!
Do you also have a Cake on the Epiphany?
No

In addition, what do you eat on Christmas eve, what about on Christmas Day,
on New Years Eve & New Years Day, on the Epiphany?

On Christmas Eve I am making a ham, polish sausage, ambrosia, green bean casserole, scalloped potatoes, etc. On Christmas Day my mother in law makes ham served cold with sandwich fixings.

On Christmas Day evening I go to my friend's house and she is making homemade lasagna.

Do you have a BIrthday Cake for Baby Jesus ?
We have in the past.

How long do you keep your Manger & or Tree up for ?
Until the last weekend before I go back to work (I am a teacher).


#14

My husband's family does the traditional Italian "Feast of the Seven Fishes" on Christmas Eve. In years past it was at his grandmother's house, now it's at his mom's house with his aunts and uncles and cousins. Gifts from those family members are opened then, and then after they leave the rest of the presents are opened. I grew up opening one present on Christmas Eve and leaving the rest for the morning. Santa gifts are still in the morning (Santa hasn't visited us for a while, but now that there's a baby he'll be making a stop. ;))

We used to attend Mass on Christmas Eve, but with a baby it'll just be easier to go to Mass on Christmas Day. :)

Other food things: Christmas Day varies a lot. My mom cooks ham, but it varies from year to year at my in-laws. We might be eating homemade ravioli and "city chicken" which is actually not chicken at all. Still delicious.

New Year's Day is lobster. Yum.


#15

My family are Polish so we do the typical Polish things on Christmas. Christmas Eve was really the big one for me as a child, as that's when you got presents :D

On Christmas Eve, my family fast the whole day (eating only very small amounts), which makes us extra excited for the evening meal ;) Back when I was little, we would wait for the first star to appear before beginning the meal. There would be an extra chair and plates set on the table, symbolising hospitality as when Our Lady and Joseph needed a place to stay there was no room at the inn. Back in the olden days, homeless and needy people would actually knock on doors on Christmas Eve and be let in to share the celebrations. When finally the first star appeared, we would all gather at the table and read the Gospel. After this, we would share the "opłatek", which is a wafer similar to communion bread. In Poland, you break the opłatek together and give each other wishes. Finally, we would eat. As Christmas Eve is still a fasting day, rather than meat we would have the traditional carp, red barszcz with uszka dumplings, etc. There would also be some hay under the tablecloth to symbolise the manger. The Polish tradition is twelve dishes (one for each apostle) but I've only seen this done once, as it's far too much food :P Afterwards we'd sing some carols (basically every single Polish carol is religious) and open all our gifts! Midnight mass would follow if we lived close enough to the church (my mother deemed me to be too young, but the adults went), then a happy sleep filled with dreams of the gifts I got :rolleyes: The next day would be festive food, carols, family visits, solemn mass, etc.


#16

Love this thread!
This one is my favorite, but I love all the traditions!


#17

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