Diary of a Stay at Home Mom: Christmas Traditions...What are yours?

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Traditions...What are yours?

Well December is here so 24 days til Christmas!  Yep, 24, because in my family we celebrate Christmas eve as well.  In Poland (where I'm from) Christmas Eve is the beginning of the Christmas celebration.  There are many traditions that go along with it, many of which we still do year after year with my side of the family.  In Polish, this eve is called Wigilia (Vee-geel-yah).  Prior to dinner we "break bread" I guess you could call it.  Each person takes a wafer-like "bread" called oplatek (oh-plah-tek) and goes around to the others breaking off a piece of theirs, as they break a piece of yours, and wishing them the best for the next year.  We do not eat meat on Wigilia, but there is quite a large selection of fish prepared in many ways.  The most common fish is Herring.  This tradition stems from a long-time Church mandate that a strict fast be observed on this day before Christmas.  We have changed this up a bit and added one meat dish to our dinner since my husband (who is not Polish) does not care for fish....and my little brothers don't either.  There is also a special soup my mother makes only on Christmas Eve and its everyone's favorite, even the picky eaters.  This soup is called borszcz and is a red soup made out of beets.  The soup is served with little tortellini-like things filled with mushrooms....don't knock it 'til you try it, its the best soup EVER.
 Traditionally, on Wigilia, you should put a little hay under the tablecloth in honor of Christ being born in the manger.  After dinner my dad tries to get us all to sing Polish Christmas carols, none of which we remember all the words to, while the kids get antsy to open presents, which are opened that night.  When we were kids we went to Midnight Mass at the Catholic church.  My parents still go, but we try to get home to get the kids to bed so Santa can come.

Christmas morning is always fun, last year the kids woke us up at 4 a.m.  After presents are opened we head to my in-laws for breakfast cassarole, mimosas, and more gift exchanging.  We relax and enjoy each other's company until the afternoon, then head out again to my husbands aunts house for Christmas dinner.

Its always a busy time of year for us, but always a special time.  I am anxiously waiting for our new Elf on the Shelf to get here so I can start that tradition with the kids as well.  What are some ways you celebrate the Holidays?  What are your favorite traditions?


Judy Haughton-James said...

Very interesting reading about your traditions in Poland. Here at home in Jamaica we celebrate Christmas on December 25. Families get together. Some go to church and the special lunch usually includes baked ham. We also open our gifts on Christmas Day. Christmas pudding is a must for many. Over the years I enjoyed decorating our house with my twin. Now I decorate with her favourite decorations. Take care and I wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season.

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