Every year we celebrate the Christmas holidays with so many wonderful traditions. Some of our favorite traditions for the season are here in our TOP TEN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS.
The Christmas season begins for many with the start of Advent. Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming,” is the time of preparation and waiting for the celebration of the Nativity and Jesus’ birth at Christmas. In many Western churches, it begins on the fourth Sunday before December 25. It is celebrated with Advent wreaths – a decorative wreath of greenery with 4 candles, one for each week of Advent. The passage of Advent is marked by the lighting of one candle each week, until in week 4, all are lit. It is a special time, lighting the candle and remembering what this special season is all about! It is a tradition that is never missed in the home of yours truly!
Advent is often also celebrated and marked with an Advent Calendar. Most often it is a calendar of 24 days, beginning December 1 and moving through December 24, with the culmination on Day 25 with Christmas. Many are made for children in the form of windows, with one opened each day to reveal a poem, picture, or part of a story. I remember having one when I was a child and the expectation each day when a new ‘window’ would be opened on the calendar. The excitement and anticipation are still to be remembered. Some more elaborate Advent calendars have a small gift concealed in each window, such as a toy or a chocolate item. YUM! What was your favorite advent surprise?
How many Christmas Cards do you get each year in your mail? Or in your email? Or now via Facebook posts? I look forward each year to picking up the mail in December and seeing what my friends, family and co-workers have been doing this past year. It is especially nice to get the newsletters in those special cards, telling all the tales of the year. Photos….photos….photos…..now we have them in digital form, so it’s easy to include them in these traditional cards. An extra special idea is to make a home-made Christmas card, full of color, glitter, and add-ons. Here is a link to a site that describes how to make a pop-up Christmas Tree card, with a video showing you step-by-step. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Christmas-Tree-Pop-up-Card-%28Robert-Sabuda-Method%2
Take a few moments with one of your children and make a special card for Grandmother, a special Aunt or Uncle, or a favorite friend. Include a favorite saying from your family or use traditional sentiments like “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”. Collect your Christmas cards each year and use them the next year for ideas. Cut out images from them and paste them on your new designs….add some glitter and a special message and VOILA! A Christmas treasure!
They come in all sizes and all kinds….tall, short, wide, narrow, spruce, fir, pine, green, white, and multicolored. They have a multitude of decorations….ornaments, garland, lights, stars, bows, balls, candles, handmade, purchased. And they are the heart of most home décor at Christmas. Many families have a tradition for ‘setting up the tree’.
In our home, we set aside a day when the whole family can participate. We start by getting the decorations out of storage….that’s a job, as we’ve collected much over the years. Then we get the video camera….a tradition we started when the children were small. It’s a great memory for us each year to look back on. Dad sets it up on the tripod, and we’re off!
The tree is set up first, then the lights are added. That is the biggest job, and DAD is in charge! Then the garland….each year we change it up with different colors. Then the ornaments….oh, what a collection of homemade, school-made, gifted, and purchased. Each brings a memory to our minds. Last, but not least, is the star on top…..the crowning moment when we all step back and admire our work.
This tradition is always made more fun with hot chocolate, wassail, and cookies. If you are lucky enough to not have allergies to pine, I’m sure many of you have ‘real’ trees and make a tradition of finding the right one. Whatever your tradition, a tree is a special addition to the season.
Here is one from SFMB that can be placed on your mantel or end table, if you have no other. ENJOY! http://www.sanfranciscomusicbox.com/holidays/christmas/Jingle-Bell-Rotating-Christmas-Tree-Fig
“And their stockings were hung by the chimney with care…..” What is the origin of Christmas stockings being hung by the chimney? Various versions abound, but one popular legend describes the following:
“Very long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death.
Saint Nicholas was passing through when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. St. Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until it was night and crept through the chimney.
He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying. He put one bag in each stocking and off he went. When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold coins and were of course, overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after.” (wikipedia.org)
The reason for the Season…..Jesus’ birth. This tradition is well-known in all of Christianity. Most nativity depictions show the Virgin Mary, her spouse Joseph, and the infant Jesus, either laying in a manger or being held by Mary. This represents the Holy Family and their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Having no room at the inn, the Holy Family stay in a stable, which is often shown in a Nativity scene. Others join the Nativity scene….the shepherds and their sheep, who hear the ‘great news’ from the Angels. Three wise men, or Magi, follow a star to Bethlehem to find the newborn King, where they honor him with gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Having a Nativity as a part of the holiday is a tradition for many. Some display them under the Christmas tree, others in a special place in the home. Many holiday programs include a Nativity reenactment as part of the program. In our home, the Nativity holds a place of honor, as we remember why we celebrate this holy season.
If you are looking for a special nativity that holds the magic of Christmas, here is a beautiful musical water globe/figurine just for you! I plays one of my personal favorites for Christmas – “O Holy Night”. http://www.sanfranciscomusicbox.com/holidays/christmas/Gold-Nativity-Waterglobe-Figurine
Jesus is the light of the world….what better way to commemorate the season celebrating His birth than with light! Lights on the Christmas tree in multi colors or simply in white! Candles on the table or on the tree! Lights on the house and around the bushes and up the driveway! Neighborhoods are decorated with matching lights. And many places of business outline their stores with lights. Some go another step and add music to the lights for a true holiday display! In Kansas City, our SFMB home, we celebrate the holiday season with two fond ‘lighting’ traditions.
On Thanksgiving night, the world famous Plaza lights are lit. It is a phenomenal display of color and pageantry, with over 80 miles of lights outlining the spectacular architecture of this classic shopping district in the heart of Kansas City.
Then, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree is lit the following weekend at another traditional ceremony. The 100-foot-tall Mayor’s Christmas Tree, one of the nation’s tallest, is the centerpiece for an illuminating holiday celebration. It’s the symbol of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which is dedicated to assisting the city’s less fortunate. After the holidays, the wood from the Mayor’s Christmas Tree is made into commemorative ornaments, which are sold the following year to benefit the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund. (http://www.crowncenter.com/Event/Event.asp?Key=844&~ )
What holiday lighting ceremonies are your favorites?
What would the holiday season be without sweets, sweets, sweets? Christmas baking is a classic tradition and one that children look forward to eagerly. Who doesn’t love the fun of decorating a gingerbread house? Or making cut-out sugar cookies in the shape of bells, trees, and stars…then frosting and eating them? What about a classic holiday fruitcake? And those special candies and cookies and breads? Oh, I can feel the pounds coming on by just thinking about all those yummy treats! We make sure all our friends and family have a sampling of whatever we bake. And don’t forget, some of those special cookies need to be saved for Christmas Eve to leave out on a special plate for Santa.
Here is a favorite recipe from one of our SFMB fans:
1 c. sugar 1 c. confectioners sugar 1 c. margarine
2 eggs 1 c. oil 4.5 c flour
1 tsp. baking soda 1 tsp. cream of tartar 1 tsp. vanilla
Mix. Roll out and cut out cookie shapes. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet. 375 degrees, 10 min.
One of the most loved parts of the holiday season is the music. It makes one feel good by just listening. And there are so many wonderful holiday songs….old songs and new songs, famous songs and not-so-famous songs. Three of our fans shared their favorites on our Facebook page:
ANN: Carol of the Bells, originally titled Shchedryk, was composed by Mykola Dmytrovych Leontovych in 1916. This Ukrainian folk song is about a sparrow and the bountiful year that awaits a family. In theUnited States the song was first performed in 1921 at Carnegie Hall. Peter J. Wilhousky wrote new lyrics for the melody, copyrighted it and the song is what we now know as “Carol of the Bells.” This hauntingly beautiful song is about the sound of bells come Christmas time. (wikipedia.org) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvNmOc1QirY
BARBARA: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a song introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical ”Meet Me In St. Louis.” Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics, which has become more common than the original. (wikipedia.org)
ANGELA: “The Little Drummer Boy,” originally known as “Carol of the Drum,” is a popular Christmas song written by the American classical music composer/teacher Katherine Davis in 1941. It was recorded in 1955 by the Trapp Family Singers and further popularized by a 1958 recording by the Harry Chorale. In the lyrics the singer relates how, as a poor young boy, he was summoned by the Magi to the nativity where, without a gift for the infant Jesus, he played his drum with the Virgin Mary’s approval, remembering “I played my best for Him” and “He smiled at me”. (wikipedia.org)
And another one of my personal favorites:
Silent Night originated in the little town ofOberndorf,Austria in 1818. Christmas Eve was almost upon them when the priest, Joseph Mohr, discovered that the organ didn’t work. Some say it was because of rust; some say that a mouse ate through the cables. Whatever the reason, it was unfixable. So Mohr pulled out a poem he had written called “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht,” and asked his friend and organist Franz Gruber to write a simple melody to it that could be played on the guitar. He did; the choir quickly learned the song; “Silent Night” became history. (wikipedia.org)
Enjoy the sounds of the holidays in some of SFMB’s spectacular snow globes and figurines! http://www.sanfranciscomusicbox.com/tunes
A tradition that truly reflects the meaning of Christmas….Christmas service at your place of worship. Remembering that this special season is about the birth of our Savior Jesus is what makes all of the other traditions have meaning. Families and friends dress up to attend mass, religious services, prayer services, musical programs, and reenactments of the Nativity. It is a special time to remember the Christ Child and pray for Peace On Earth.
It’s 4:00 a.m. The kids are tip-toeing down the stairs to peak at the presents. “Hurry Up!” they whisper to each other. One goes to find a flashlight. The others wait. Slowly, carefully, they check out the packages and gifts, discovering names on each. Quietly they pick up a few and shake them. They whisper, hoping their parents are still sleeping. They crawl up on the couch and fall asleep for another 2 hours. When 7:00 arrives, they bound into mom and dad’s bedroom and shake them. “Wake Up! Wake Up! Santa was here!” Everyone dashes to the living room …. the excitement is contagious. The packages under the tree are gaily wrapped, sparkling, and calling ‘Open Me’. It’s a moment like no other. All the shopping, all the wrapping, all the late nights.….the feeling when you give a gift to another and see their joy is unparalleled. No matter how small the gift….sharing with another, without expecting anything in return, is priceless.
Thank you, Jesus, for your gift to us.
Happy holidays to our SFMB fans.