What are your Christmas family traditions?


What an incredible tradition. :thumbsup:
Once you are married, if that is your calling, and have children, I am sure they will also love this tradition.


On Christmas Eve, we have pasta and homemade sauce (or noodles and gravy as my Italian DH says), fried squid and a nice antipasto salad. Some of us go to church with my Mom to her Methodist church for candlelight service and the rest go to one of the other Masses at our parish. In the am we have my homemade coffee cake before/while we open gifts. We are trying to keep the gifts to 3 per child like Jesus got on his birth night, but who knows how that will go. Then we have as many of our local family and friends as can come for dinner. Ham, au gratin potatoes, paris green, jello salad, cheese and veggie tray, pumpkin pie, punch, wine, coffee, and whatever the other folks bring. My kids say that Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinner (fondly known by them as ‘pass the pass’) are their favorite meals of the year, cuz all their ‘loves’ are here. Since we have 12 kids and only 5 at home, if any of the older ones show up, it’s a fracas.

Except for the Italian stuff, this is basically what we did as I grew up, with the exception of it happening at my Grandma’s house.


Well for me personally Christmas tends to get dictated by choir events. We are already starting to practice for our concert and for Advent/Christmas. That means at least I will be going to Midnight Mass and usually one Mass on Christmas morning. To me, Christmas is largely about the music. The choir helps me keep connected to the liturgical and theological significance of Christmas.

Sometime around the beginning of Advent we’ll start putting up the outside lights and some of inside decorations. By the time Christmas arrives we’ll have put up the tree and managed to get it decorated. (It usually seems to take us about a week to get the decorations up. Since the “kids” are all older now I haven’t been as consistent about moving the wise men across the room but since last year my 19 year old daughter told me how much it meant to her I decided I have to continue the tradition.

My extended family usually tries to get together on Christmas Eve and/or late Christmas Day. Christmas morning the immediate family opens presents and has breakfast together.

I’ve always wanted to do something special for Epiphany but the family doesn’t seem that interested. They do expect the tree to stay up at least until then…




I’m from the Philippines, I don’t know if you heard that the longest Christmas celebration is held in the Philippines. Officially we start on the early morning of the 16th of December when the Misa De Gallo starts at 4:00 am. It started during the Spanish occupation of the country as thanksgiving for a good harvest. It’s also a novena cause its held until the early morning of the 24th. The churches will be full and plenty still standing outside the church. But as the days went by church attendance decreases mostly due to fatigue of waking up early. One of the exciting part is after the mass is the brakfast. You can buy your favorite native delicasies which you can buy when Christmas season starts. I am a Merchant Marine Officer now so most of the time I am on board working on a ship. I was only able to complete the early morning masses twice in my life. I am 42 years old now. Actually for Filipinos, Christmas starts as early as September 1. Like my wife for her as long as the ''Ber ‘’ months startrs she will start decorating our house with lights and lanterns. This become a trdition since I got married. But for this year we held back as I explained to her, that many people are grieving in pain because of ther loss during the typhoons that hit he Philippines. Christmass eve Mass, the church will be full, the Mass stars at 11;00 pm but if you like to sit down you have to be in the church at 9:00 pm. Usually my in-laws spend their Christmas Eve with us for 5 years in a row now although they are 7th Day Adventists. After the Mass the we celebrate the Christmas Eve dinner with various foods and we do the exchange gift afterwards. No more children in the family to tell about Santa. and on the 25th Godchildren will come for gifts. Dec 1 will be the start of Christmas Carollers until Ephiphany, From young Children to grown ups for civic projects or fund raising. In a tropical country like the Philippines, we don’t get snow. 70°F of temperature is already cold for us. Cold wind coming from Siberia, China and Japan are the source of cold winds. If I celebrate Christmas at home Thanks be to God. If I’m on board the ship just make the most out of it and be thankful still. As I’ve always said to young Filipinos who wanted to follow the Seaman’s footsteps, ‘‘I’ts not an easy job but somebody has got to do it. Just don’t loose your faith.’’ Thanks to all of you. May God’s Grace and Peace be with us all. Merry Christmas! :blessyou::winter:



We also had a wax baby Jesus for our creche, dressed in silk swaddling clothes and with the most tightly curled blond hair and blue eyes. He had a leg amputated one year, but being wax it was easily fixed with some of Mom’s canning wax supply. The stable itself was always fashioned with fabric draped between the top and bottom shelves of a side table. The little wooly sheep with matchstick legs were about 1/10 the size of baby Jesus and the most out of proportion of all the out of proportion figures.

Later we were given a beautiful nativity scene with all the figures fixed in place. It had a music box that played “Silent Night” and baby brother, who was very musical even when he was 3, soon learned to wind it up. By the time Epiphany rolled around we were ready to smash that thing against the wall having heard that tinny, plinking ‘Silent Night’ 200 times too many. :smiley:


This has to be the most beautiful thing I have read so far! May you be blessed with another peaceful God centered Christmas–may we all!


We changed things when the kids came along. Just too difficult getting to everyone. So I had Christmas doing the BIG meal Christmas Eve, with Church on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day was for opening presents, a breakfast with dishes that could be made before hand, and later I’d put in a frozen lasagna and a salad for supper. This way it was all about the kids and anyone who wanted to stop in. The realitives stayed over.


Our one tradition is to bring out the tree,the decorations, the manger, stable, three wise men on the first Sunday of advent and it all stays there till the Epiphany and thats when we put it all away. Just our little way of keeping Christ in Christmas.

And I’ve gotta say I just love the whole christmas season the decorations the lights the shopping the going to mass. The only thing I miss is, here in Australia christmas is in the middle of summer and we never experience a white christmas. I’d like to do that one day.


Now, Christmas starts the Sunday after Thanksgiving with the Christmas dishes brought down to be used until after New Year’s. Then there’s the cookie exchange where guests bring 5 doz. homemade cookies of one kind and leave with 5 doz. of a mixed assortment. No sampling until Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve dinner is now fish usually shrimp scampi.

The Christmas Carol is a must every year. Harkens back to when my grandfather and I watched the original movie on TV. Have loved it ever since and own most. Also enjoy It’s a Wonderful Life, The Grinch, and The Bishop’s Wife (story of an Anglican priest but get the oldie with David Niven, Cary Grant,and Loretta Young). And if there is a play of Christmas Carol, we’re off to see that.

Have the Christmas pickel hidden on the tree. A German idea. He who finds the pickel, gets a prize.

Gift cards for food are sent out before Thanksgiving and the week after Christmas. We usually have two families who receive the cards anomymously. Also give a gift through a women’s group for a woman to the Women’s Shelter and the children can pick one or more to give to their Moms for Christmas.


Perhaps there’s something a little metaphorical there! :wink:




Funny you should mention the “out of proportion” figures. After poor Baby Jesus melted, we couldn’t find another one anywhere near the size, so we had to make do with a very large Christ Child - at least as big as his parents!


That would be so neat!! I really hope it works out for you. :slight_smile:

And please, please, tell me what’s in gumbo!..I’ve always wanted to know how to make it - Louisiana style! :yup::bounce:

God Bless


When our parish bought a new nativity set a few years ago, all the figures arrived intact after a long trek by mail over 800 km of gravel – all the figures that is except Jesus.

When I took him out of the packaging I noticed he’d suffered a broken finger. The broken finger itself wasn’t noticeable unless you were very close to it but the result certainly was: Baby Jesus was now flipping us the bird! I took pictures and sent them to the company where we’d bought the set. They sent a replacement, but alas, not from the same set and a much paler, smaller figure. In the end, I just broke off the offending digit and we’ve been using the original, amputee Jesus in the crib. Nobody who isn’t in the know has ever noticed.


Funny! :smiley:


Great topic Jeanne.

Our family tradition is getting together the week before Christmas and making Strufoli. They are tiny fried dough balls coated in honey and sprinkles. Cutting the dough takes a while, so usually my sister, my mom. and now my 2 daughters get together and work as a family to make the strufolis. My grandmother is known well in the family for handing out these dishes around Christmas. And now we’re continuing the tradition in our generation.


We live in the “boonies”, and any family are many hundreds of miles away.
Lots of candles lit, a deer, or elk roast in the oven with some yams is usually our
Christmas dinner. No sugary sweets baked anymore…darn it!
Enjoy opening each paper window of a very old advent calendar for each day leading up
to Christmas Day. It was our child’s when she was small and was saved.

Then we attend Midnite Mass after a long walk in the snow holding hands.


Although we do not start our Christmas decorating until the first Sunday of Advent, we always go down to the annual tree lighting in our town which is the night after Thanksgiving. There is a beautiful feeling of friendliness and wonder as we count down the seconds before the huge tree is lit in the city center. Afterward, there are cookies and soft drinks in the local shops and we spend a half hour or so in the nursing home singing carols along with the residents or just saying hello. Before Christmas comes, we will have helped collect, sort and prepare food baskets and sort out gifts for our parish’s gift program.

It is a family tradition to buy our tree from the Lions club. We buy it early before they run out and keep it in a bucket of water in the back yard until it is closer to Christmas. We begin decorating it sometime during the week just before Christmas, after our Nativity set is arranged on top of the piano. We have a tabletop tree in our family room that is decorated with my Mom’s old ornaments from her house and photos of family members. And in keeping with the old fashioned feel, it has multicolored lights and not the white ones seen everywhere these days.

I also put up a small tree in our dining room that is filled with Irish themed ornaments. Most were given to me by family and friends. I began to have so many that they deserved their own tree! It is topped with a beautiful Belleek angel. I don’t know how we are going to keep the new kitten from climbing on the tree this year though…Any suggestions?

Christmas eve dinner means only one thing for this Italian/ Irish family–Fish. We try to get the traditional seven (for the seven sacraments of course) but I will confess that one of the seven often ends up being fish sticks! Midnight mass is at 10:30 where we live so that is when we go, but that’s okay as I join the population that can’t stay up late or else needs to go home and finish the wrapping! We do not put anything under our tree until after the “children” have gone to bed. The last thing my husband and I do before we go to bed is place Baby Jesus in his place in the crib and fill the stockings. The stockings are the first things to be opened Christmas morning. Even they are filled with mostly the same things every year… Eventually the living room is a mess of colored wrapping paper and shirt boxes strewn everywhere! My husband makes it his mission to clean up the papers as we go, much to the annoyance of my children!

Our day is spent at home, with the fireplace glowing and everyone reading or playing with new stuff as our extended family does not live nearby. We call them on the phone and will drive to their house in a couple of days. It is nice to just say home and relax after all is said and done. Dinner is again Italian-- Lasagne or stuffed shells, dessert is Italian cream cake or Neapolitan cookies.

I know that tradition is very important to everyone. Our traditions may be different than your family’s, but I am sure that we all look forward to everything staying the same year after year. With all the uncertainty in life, it means a lot to my family to repeat the same things every year. We love the familiarity and the warmth that Christmas brings.


I’m not sure that we truely have any firm ones in my family. Mostly it’s just having a nice fire going, spending time with the family and such. Typically we have pruchuto, camenburt. nuts, M&Ms and other goodies.

Personally, I’m going to look for some more actually Christian stuff added in to my family plan.


Oh man growing up during Christmas was my most joyful experiences, my parents thanks to GOD made miracles happen! Always a great turkey dinner even if it was small…Unforgettable you know?! And of course before midnight we would go out and look at all the Christmas lit houses it was wonderful some people would over decorate their homes but it was so gorgeous it was worth it you know?! I know they felt great for giving us kids something great and joyful to look at… :slight_smile:

I try to keep to some of those traditions, Turkey dinner with the kids and now fiance…Hopefully this year will be just as great as every year! :smiley:

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