How Do You Celebrate the Holidays?

Yesterday’s post by Andrea, and the corresponding comments from some of you, got me thinking… This time of year is so full of many different holidays and celebrations, how do you celebrate?

I am from the U.S., currently living in the Virgin islands, and my family celebrates Christmas. Since we’re a military family, we keep things simple for the holidays, but we have our little traditions.

We prefer to have a live Christmas tree, but they’re far too pricey here in the islands, so it’s an artificial tree for us, for now. We typically put our tree up and decorate it around December 10, but this year, I was homesick for snow and that wintry feeling, so we put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Every ornament on our Christmas tree means something to at least one person in the family. They’re all very special.

I have lots of other Christmas decorations that I love too, especially this Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer counter, but my favorite is my nativity.

I bought this last year when I spotted it in October. I fell in love right away! It’s hand carved olive wood from Jerusalem. Isn’t beautiful?

One of our family traditions is to open one small gift on Christmas eve, then save the rest for Christmas morning. We spend the rest of Christmas day watching our favorite holiday movies, cooking, and enjoying our gifts from one another. My husband is German, so I like to try to make traditional German goodies every year, but I also make a few things from my childhood too. Every year, though, I like to make something less traditional for us. Something that I’ve never made before, but that is common on Christmas tables from different places around the world. This year, I think I’m going to make the bread sauce that was mentioned in yesterday’s post! If anyone has a family recipe that they would love to share, I’d be honored to attempt making it!

When I was a little girl, we would all spend Christmas at my grandmother’s or my aunt’s house. After gifts and lots of food, we would break up into groups and play cards and board games. Then everyone would gather around the piano and we would belt out carols! I miss those Christmases so much, but I’m happy to be forming new traditions with my family.

Now it’s your turn, everyone parties differently, so what holidays do you celebrate and how do you do it? Where do you live and what are your holiday traditions? How do you decorate? What’s for dinner? More importantly, what’s for dessert?! Are there any unusual customs in your country that people participate in or unusual foods that are prepared?

I can’t wait to hear from everyone and thanks for sharing!

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Comments

  1. Emmy says

    I love Guy Fawkes Night over here in England. When I was younger my parents would invite aunts, uncles and the cousins over for a fireworks display. There would be a big bonfire in the garden and we would have the fireworks later on. My mum would make a lovely buffet with and amazing cake. It looked like a Catherine wheel. Lovely!

  2. Heather (Big seesie) says

    I'm usually a scrooger when it comes to Christmas, but this year, in our new house, I am actually excited about it. My boys LOVE Christmas, of course, and it's pretty much all about them. We don't have a tree, yet, but we have put out all of our decorations, and we already have TONS of snow on the ground, so it helps to get me in the Christmas mood. :) The holidays ALWAYS make me miss my family… We are a military family as well, so we usually spend our holidays with just the five of us. We open everything (VERY!) early Christmas morning, and then just lay around and eat and watch your typical Christmas movies all day. But it's a cozy, comfy "IN" day with just us, so I love it still.
    Since Bakingdoms author, Darla, a.k.a., Sugarbear, is my baby seesie, I know exactly how she feels around the holidays, and I MISS HER TERRIBLY (she lives in the Virgin Islands, and I reside way up here in Duluth, Minnesota)!!! You should always, ALWAYS be thankful for what you have, because you never know when it might be taken from you.
    Merry Christmas to you and all of yours out there, no matter how you spend your holidays!!!!

  3. You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... says

    christmas is the only time of year i get certain desserts, mostly rum cake and rolled out sugar cookies. i love both of these soooo much, but i feel like if i eat them any other time of the year they'll be ruined forever. :)

  4. Anonymous says

    I'm a Kiwi, from New Zealand, so Christmas is quite different over here, being in summertime… I've never had a white Christmas or anything like that, and we usually spend Christmas outside sunbathing, eating BBQ and Pavlova, and playing cricket on the back lawn with cousins. (mmm… pavlova…)

  5. cynthiesmom says

    We usually spend every holiday trucking the kids to 4 different places since both our parents are divorced. This year though, we are taking off and taking the kids on vacation by ourselves. Unfortuantely I don't have the room to take my kitchen with me so we will be ordering a precooked meal from a local deli. But maybe we have a new tradition in the making.

  6. Anonymous says

    I'm in Australia, (far north queensland, where its usually about 36deg celsius in the shade at Christmas time!) My 2 sisters and 1 brother, and all of our families all converge on my parent's place for Christmas, and usually spend a week just relaxing, having a few beers and eating ridiculous amounts of food :). As far as Christmas traditions go, first thing on Christmas morning, we all get up and have breakfast. *gasp* yes… before presents are even thought about! Once everyone has had brekky, we start with the presents. Having 17 people makes the gift giving experience (aka chaos) very noisy and fun, and the kids love it. For lunch we normally have prawns, ham, cold chicken and tonnes of salad, and then a hot roast dinner, normally turkey and pork. Once the kids are in bed, we have a few drinks, and play board games (until my big brother chucks a hissy fit if anyone beats him, and goes to bed… hehehe)
    I can't wait till Christmas!!!
    Rita :)

  7. Arts in the Family says

    one year I cooked at a seminary. the guys were the most wonderful to cook for. the head of seminary collected nativity's from around the world and they were displayed at xmas. they were so incredible. but yours is very unique! I have never seen one like it thanks for sharing that.

  8. Milena says

    We celebrate Swedish christmas, so on christmas eve morning we open stockings and have saffron bread (shaped into animals, designs, rolls, etc.) to have xmas eve morning with hot cocoa and coffee. Then we have a HUGE christmas lunch (sometimes dinner, not as traditional) on the same day (the 24th). Normally my half-sister makes everything, but starting last year she's passed it on to me, so this year I am going to cook it again! Daunting task, but so exciting! Some of the dishes we always have are: Swedish meatballs, dill potatoes, asparagus omelette, lympa bread, ham, beet salad, pink cream, lingonberry jam, and pepparkakor (very thin crispy gingerbread cookies).
    Oh, and also no one is allowed to see the feast before it's presented. First we all have to join hands and sing a particular song while we dance through every room in the house, finally ending in the room with the feast all laid out with red and white candles and little pinecone figurines. THEN everyone can dive for the meatballs. :P
    It's my favourite holiday ever, and I've been helping bake it since I was 5, so it's really special. :)

  9. says

    We’re from the same part of the country, so our traditions are pretty similar. However, I noticed you said your husband is German. My dad’s grandmother was German and she made this traditional German dessert during the holidays called Himmel Futter. My grandmother began to make it when her mother passed and now that she is also gone, my mom makes it. Over the years its been simplified so its pretty easy to make. But I can imagine things like homemade whipped cream instead of cool whip would greatly improve it. Here is the recipe. I’d been interested in your twist on in or how you would improve it to make it better if you don’t already make it!

    Batter

    2 eggs, beaten
    1 cup sugar
    6 Tbls flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 lb dates
    1/2 lb walnuts

    Topping
    2 large oranges
    2 large bananas
    1/2 – 1 cup sugar
    Cool Whip – large container

    Preheat oven to 350
    Spray 9 x 9 casserole dish lightly with Pam
    Chop dates & walnuts (if you didn’t buy them already chopped)
    Mix batter ingredients altogether in bowl
    Pour in casserole dish
    Bake for 30 – 40 minutes – top will be light brown
    Let cool completely

    Topping
    In a medium bowl, slice bananas in about 1/4″ slices
    Peel and pull oranges apart in wedges
    Slice each wedge in half, put in bowl with bananas
    Stir lightly then sprinkle the sugar on top
    Let sit for at least 1/2 hour

    Break up cake on a decorative platter or in a large bowl
    Stir oranges & bananas, then layer on top of cake
    Top with Cool Whip

    You can either stir it all together right before serving,
    or serve it layered and each person can stir their own