CHRISTMAS is celebrated in all sorts of ways by different people across the world, and by different people who may live just across the street or hallway from you. So how do YOU celebrate Christmas?
Here are some Christmas traditions we have in our family.
1. MAKING THE CHRISTMAS CAKE AND CHRISTMAS PUDDING ~
For us November 25th has traditionally been the day the Christmas cake and pudding are made. Before this date I get the kids to help make a list of ingredients and quantities needed then we shop for them together. On the 25th together we measure out, cut, stir and sample the goodies as we make the cake and pudding. Until this year I have used a recipe that asks for the fruit to be 'soaked' in brandy a few days, before making the cake and pudding and cooking them. However this year I have broken the tradition and tried totally new recipes - so I hope everyone is happy with the results.
2. TELLING THE CHRISTMAS STORY ~
In our family we want our kids to understand what Christmas is all about. Here are 3 methods we have used.
"THE CHRISTMAS MYSTERY" : JOSTEIN GAARDER.
This year we are reading this book - by the way at the moment I only have my 2 youngest at home who are boys, 13 and 16 years old, but they are there listening as this books has been apart of Christmas in our family - it's a tradition, and traditions can be comfortable, making happy memories.
A chapter of the book is read each day from December 1 - 25. The story is two stories, with Joachim the narrator who tells of a little girl, Elisabet who follows a lamb from a city department store out into the street. This is the beginning of a journey back through history to the birth of Jesus.
This book is centred around an old advent calendar, so if you are using advent calendars it would give your kids an added dimension to theirs.
"A BABY CALLED JESUS", "THE FIRST CHRISTMAS", "WHEN JESUS WAS YOUNG" : PENNY FRANK
The two weeks leading up to Christmas we read through the 3 books, a few pages each day. Some years we would use this opportunity to learn one or two Christmas carols - "Silent Night" or "Away in a Manger", and then by the time we got to Christmas they knew the words and could loudly sing them at church or the local community Christmas event. This was a great confidence boost for the pre-schoolers who could not as yet read.
"A JESUS ADVENT CELEBRATION" - JESSE TREE JOURNEY : ANN VOSKAMP AND NANCY RODDEN
This series was published last year and our whole family thoroughly enjoyed it. It is FREE and you can down load it at http://www.aholyexperience.com/2012/11/free-christmas-family-devotional-jesse-tree-ornaments/
The series starts November 29 through to Christmas day. The book gives an explanation of what Christmas is about - not just by telling about Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, but it connects people and happening from right through the Bible to show why Christmas happened. In our family it roused our curiosity for the real events of Christmas day.
3. HOME-MADE CHRISTMAS ADVENT CALENDARS ~
Some years our kids made their own advent calendars with 2 sheets of cardboard. On the first they glued 24 pictures of Christmas which they cut out from old Christmas cards or wrapping paper. With help, they positioned 24 doors on the second sheet of cardboard in the correct place to reveal the 24 Christmas pictures. With help the kids cut open 3 sides of the 24 doors, using a craft knife and then numbered them 1 - 24. I taped around the perimeter to attach the 2 sheets together. This took a lot of effort by the kids, but decades later they still talk about the excitement the whole process was. The word ADVENT means "the coming" (of Jesus)
4. CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS ~
We hang the Christmas stocking from the mantle piece above the fire. You can make them from felt using a simple boot shape, hand stitch the initial for each person out of cord and then one sewing line around the edge on the sewing machine, including a tab or loop to hang the stocking by - make sure it is strong enough if you intend to put things of weight into the stocking. We hang our stockings when the Christmas tree comes - which is tomorrow!!!
5. THE FAMILY CHRISTMAS PLAY ~
Before we open presents we have the family Christmas play. It started as a simple thing where our older kids where little and wanted to perform this for Dad, and the tradition has stuck.
The play is based on the Christmas story from the Bible, in Matthew chapter 1 verse 18 - chapter 2 verse 16 and Luke chapter 2 verse 1 to 20. ~ Some years the kids dress up and mime the story while someone narrates the story.
~ Some years the kids made paper bag puppets of the characters, and held them up from behind the couch, speaking parts of the story while the narrator filled in the rest.
~ Some years a child who could read read the story, stopping at parts so everyone could sing a Christmas carol about that point in the story.
~ Some years on a large piece of paper the children drew what happened along the paper, like a continuous cartoon, as an older child read the Christmas story.
The older our kids get and as new people join our family, the play continues to change, and this year we will have a real baby again to play Jesus, welcoming a new generation.
6. PRESENT OPENING ~
In our family we take a L-O-N-G time to open presents at Christmas. To begin we make sure we have plenty of drinks and nibbles right there to eat. Presents are handed out so each person has a pile in front of them. The youngest person goes first, choosing 1 present and opens it while everyone watches. Then the second youngest person has their turn, and so on.
7. CHRISTMAS DAY FOOD ~
We have our main Christmas day meal at lunchtime and before we get to that, we have an assortment of food we all love - special cheeses, nuts, olives, pretzels, with special juices, cider, wine, beer or mixer drinks.
My husband BBQs the turkey in the webber BBQ.
We also have cold ham on the bone and fresh dug potatoes from our garden.
Then there's lots of salads and fantastic vegetable dishes.
Dessert is the Christmas pudding with cold custard (like Jamie Oliver I buy the supermarket custard), fresh cream and good quality ice cream.
Christmas day dessert traditionally has a lavish spread of strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
With satisfied appetites, some choose to play soccer or cricket while others chat or snooze.
8. SCANDINAVIAN CHRISTMAS ANGEL CHIMES ~
This little gizmo was only invented to be cute, and it fascinates little children as the angels move around in circles and a dinging sound is made all because the small candles are lit and so heat the metal and air.
9. FIVE CANDLES IN A DISH ~
We use a large terracotta dish to set 5 candles in. Then we fill the dish with foliage from the garden which is changed every couple of days. It sits on the table and on the first Sunday in December while we eat lunch or dinner we light 1 candle, then the second Sunday we light two candles, the third Sunday three candles, and if as in this year there are four Sundays before Christmas, we light four candles on the fourth Sunday of December. On Christmas day we light all 5 candles.
We use this as a weekly reminder of Christmas coming nearer, when The Light of the world (a name for Jesus) was born.
Where this tradition comes from?
~ it could be based on Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, an eight day Jewish holiday which commemorates the rededication of Jerusalem's then cleansed temple. The festival is celebrated in the Jewish month of Kislev, which is at about the time of our Christmas. Each night 1 more candle is lit till finally all 8 are alight plus a ninth central one.
~ the Catholic church holds the tradition of a Christmas wreath with 4 candles. Three are purple candles symbolising hope, peace and love and are lit on the first, second and fourth Sundays of December. The fourth candle is rose coloured, symbolising joy and is to be lit on the third Sunday. Sometimes a fifth candle which is white is added, symbolising the birth of Jesus.
THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS~ talk about some traditions you want to continue or begin this Christmas, and enjoy creating great memories in your family.