The holidays have begun! While the weather has hovered around or over a balmy 50 degrees, there is no denying that the holidays are here, and we have spent the last four days observing our beginning of the season traditions. For the girls, the holiday started a little earlier.
Riley enjoyed her first Thanksgiving break off of school at her Grammy and Grandpa’s house. She eagerly climbed out of bed each morning and relished the fact that she was going to her grandparents’ house and Maddie was going to school. As any dutiful big sister would, she helped me drop Maddie off at daycare and wished her a full day of learning and fun. Then she happily jumped back into the car for her days off. The highlight of her three days with the grandparents? The prospect of being able to shovel horse poop with Grandpa in the garden.
Maddie made it through her three days of school at bit begrudgingly but was excited to have a Thanksgiving feast with her friends the last day. And to her delight, her grandpa picked her up early that Wednesday, which is always a welcome surprise.
After Dad picked up Maddie, the gang headed to my work so that we could head up to my grandpa’s house all together for Thanksgiving. A crowded, family-filled tradition. As always, we arrived in one piece and in relatively good mental health. The Thanksgiving tradition went off as usual, starting with a Turkey Trot and followed in the evening by the feast and many, many family members.
We all packed back in the car on Friday for the trip back home, stopping first at the Amish cider mill and cheese factories as usual. That evening, we greeted Santa at our town square for the traditional tree lighting festival. The town gathers all together for a Christmas carol or two and helps Santa count down to the lighting of the downtown lights.
Finally, we rounded out the beginning of the season traditions with Christmas Decorating Day with our NHN family on Saturday. The day started with finding the perfect tree at a cute tree farm south of town. Usually, we find our tree and a helpful worker comes to cut it down for us, bring it back to the barn, and prepare it for transport. This year, after standing in the tree field guarding our trees for half an hour, we discovered that this year we needed to cut our own. I was surprised at how handy Lesley was with a saw. I shouldn’t have been though. I had forgotten the fury at which she went after one of the first trees we had gotten together to make it fit in the tree stand.
We decorated the day away, and at the end of the evening, the girls and I enjoyed Christmas movies in the glow of Christmas lights. A wonderful tradition-filled start to the season.
As a family, we are not short on traditions. It is a season of celebrating, after all. As much as I love ours, I do enjoy hearing about the traditions of others. In curiosity, I looked up a few and found these fun Christmas traditions from around the world. Enjoy, but don’t forget to leave us your traditions as well! We’d love to hear about them.
St. Lucia Day is celebrated in Denmark, and other Scandinavian countries, to mark the beginning of the Christmas season. St. Lucia was an early Christian martyr who was killed for her religious beliefs. A wreath of candles adorned her head in order to keep her hands free to feed the hungry. The holiday is celebrated with lights (candles, of course) and a procession of girls dressed in white gowns and candle-lit wreaths on their heads. Families enjoy a meal together, traditionally with plentiful coffee and baked goods.
The Christmas season in Colombia starts on the night of December 7th for a celebration called the Day of Little Candles. To honor St. Mary, families would historically have bonfires in the streets and socialize with neighbors. Today, it is celebrated with a candle display, rather than bonfires. Families are encouraged to share food and celebrate with their neighbors in their front yards.
St. Nicholas Day marks the beginning of the Christmas season in Germany. This is a tradition I remember well as I used to celebrate it with my family as a child. On the night of December 5th children leave their cleaned shoes (historically wooden shoes) on their front porch for St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas leaves the children oranges or other fruit. Nowadays, there may be some toys left as well.
In the Philippines, there are a series of nine dawn masses beginning on December 16th and concluding on December 24th to spiritually prepare everyone for Christmas. The masses begin as early as 4 a.m.! Traditionally the town church bells would begin ringing at 3 a.m. to wake church goers so they would be up and ready in time for church. This series of masses is known as Simbang Gabi.