Share Some Holiday Traditions

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2014-12-28 12:05:07 -0600
Started 2014-12-05 08:35:20 -0600

The holidays are crammed with all kinds of cultural, environmental and family traditions. Some are funny things that started from who knows where and others are more spiritual and still others are steeped in mystery.

Growing up, one of my favorite traditions was when my Dad would put the Moravian Star together and hang it up during advent.
We always waited until Christmas Eve to put the baby in the nativity.
One I do now with my husband is we purchase one ornament each year that kind of sums up our year and we put a date and our names on it. This year, he picked an ornament that says "Believe".
Turkey is for Thanksgiving and Ham is for Christmas in our home. My husband gets all weird if I try to change that part of the holiday menus.

What are some of your holiday traditions that you do and why do you do them? Do you make new ones each year or do you stick to what you grew up with?

74 replies

Kats49 2014-12-27 20:53:05 -0600 Report

One tradition we have stayed with for three generations is the stockings are filled with pomegranates, apples, oranges and little cheeses, with different nuts or seeds…a piece of fruit must be entirely consumed before any candy is eaten. Keeps the kids occupied and at least a bit of healthy food into their stomachs

GabbyPA 2014-12-28 10:25:56 -0600 Report

We always had an orange in the toe of our stockings. Now I have changed it to a bath scrunchie since I don't eat oranges to much anymore. We have tried to keep it as candy free as possible, but some still slips in there. I got dark chocolate and coconut pieces by Russel Stover. Yum

Kats49 2014-12-28 12:05:07 -0600 Report

Oh we use a whole lot less candy now…dark chocolate is loved by all the family including the kiddos. Moderation is the key lol. I love Lindt dark truffles. One year I thought my husband was crazy he bought me the 60 ct box. He challenged me to make it last 3 months. Worked..I learned to not mindlessly eat sweets. Two a night is sufficient. Some time less then that.

Jibber Jabber
Jibber Jabber 2014-12-19 15:26:53 -0600 Report

Christmas cookies with milk for breakfast…who has time to make breakfast and who wants to stop the present opening process??..But none for me this year…maybe some sugar free ones made from almond flour next…but they are not allowed right now on my diet…but I will make sure the grandkids get some..

GabbyPA 2014-12-20 07:41:03 -0600 Report

My mom used to buy Christmas colored doughnuts with little decorations on top when we were kids. That graduated to a special Moravian coffee cake that is to die I feel your pain. I do an easy egg casserole now that the family loves. We open our stockings at the table, so we eat and have fun....then it's on to the tree. Without kids anymore, it's easier to make it orderly. LOL 2014-12-18 06:53:44 -0600 Report

I like to put my tree up on my birthday nov22,,i always make cinnamon rolls thanksgiving and Christmas morning

GabbyPA 2014-12-18 09:12:32 -0600 Report

Birthday tree trimming was a tradition in our home also. My birthday is December 10th. Now though, I like having the decorations up earlier than that, so I don't wait anymore.

tabby9146 2014-12-16 10:01:30 -0600 Report

I want to recommend to anyone who has not seen them and has the UP channel, the Christmas movies on there. They are so good. they all have such great messages.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-16 11:09:56 -0600 Report

They are on both the Hallmark movie channel 24/7 as well as the Hallmark channel and Lifetime. They are also on ION all day on Sunday so there is a wide variety to choose from. They are all kind of sappy.

NewSong53 2014-12-15 06:29:24 -0600 Report

Love this topic and so glad you brought it up, Gabby. When I was a child, every Christmas Eve my dad and we kids would go out into the front yard (in the country) and lit fireworks — sparklers, firecrackers and Roman candles. Then we'd go inside for cocoa and some sort of sweet. We weren't allowed to open presents or our stockings until Christmas morning — which usually began about 3 am because we just couldn't sleep we were so excited! We'd start with the stockings (usually an orange, apple, walnuts and various sorts of candy) and then we each took a turn opening a present until we'd opened all of them. I was always amazed, since we didn't have much money, that we always got more than we'd dare wish for! We'd then have pancakes with maple syrup and get dressed up to share Christmas dinner at our grandparents' home with all the aunts, uncles and cousins. Every type of pie or cake we could imagine with homemade Parker House rolls, a giant turkey and lots of dressing and casseroles! So grateful for these memories!! Being single, I sometimes spend Christmas with friends but have spent many years alone, but on the phone most of the day visiting with family by phone (they all live in other states) and enjoying all the details of their Christmas Day!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-12-10 07:57:47 -0600 Report


I love this discussion. My family always watched "White Christmas" on Christmas Eve. I would always watch it with my parents if my siblings weren't around. When my dad passed, I watched it every year with my mom. After she passed, I missed it for a couple of years. This year, I watched it over Thanksgiving with my brother and his family. I decided to buy my own copy. I have a friend from China visiting over the holidays, and I am hosting "White Christmas" on Christmas Eve.


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-15 04:35:33 -0600 Report

I love that movie. I bought it and it has the music score on a separate CD. I watch it Christmas Eve and Christmas night. I also bought Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. I watch it Christmas Morning. I need Mr
Magos Christmas Carol, and the cartoon of How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol with Alistair Cooke. That will put my world back on track.

tabby9146 2014-12-16 09:57:31 -0600 Report

I always watched Rudolph, the Grinch, Frosty, and Charlie Brown Christmas and others growing up. that was back in the days when we had only 3-4 channels! My kids just can't see how we survived on that. I always told them everyone had "one" chance each year to see these specials and that was it. there were no repeats. They grew up, or my son did (he is grown now my daughter is not) watching them and my 13 year old, the youngest, still enjoys watching these with me and I am glad she still loves the Hallmark Christmas movies and the ones on the UP channel. they are really good!!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-12-15 23:33:02 -0600 Report

Hey Joyce, it really is a great movie, the music is so memorable. Also a fan of Mr. Magoo and Rudolph. The all bring back so many memories.

GabbyPA 2014-12-13 09:55:12 -0600 Report

My childhood favorites were "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" in the "claymation" style with Burle Ives the singing snowman. I also loved the "Little Drummer Boy" of the same style. But my all time favorite was Jimmy Stewart in "it's a Wonderful Life". I have not seen that one for a long time and maybe I need to follow your example and get it on DVD.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2014-12-15 23:34:11 -0600 Report

That is a great movie, I watched it too. Burl Ives' voice is hard to forget. For some reason, I was never a fan of "It's a Wonderful Life." It just never caught on with me.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-15 04:37:03 -0600 Report

Gabby I bought that Rudolph on DVD. I cannot stand It's A Wonderful Life or Christmas Story.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-16 09:12:35 -0600 Report

Like Christmas Story, I think they are both very boring. This Sunday will be my Home Alone and Home Alone 2 Lost in New York day. I also have Christmas in Connecticut with Barbara Stanwick. and I must listen to the Nutcracker.

Pegsy 2014-12-17 06:50:40 -0600 Report

I don't like Christmas Story either and it is such a popular movie. I can't figure out why. Thanks for the reminder on the Home Alone movies. I haven't watched those in a while.

tabby9146 2014-12-16 09:59:17 -0600 Report

I love Christmas in Conneticut! I also loved Barbara S. she was a great actress. used to watch her on Big Valley, and others over many years.

GabbyPA 2014-12-16 06:27:31 -0600 Report

I'm a Stewart fan and it reminded me of a Christmas Carol with a modern twist. That is why they make so many, for every taste and enjoyment.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-16 09:14:05 -0600 Report

I am not big on Stewart. There are a lot of versions of A Christmas Carol. I love the one with Cecily Tyson and of course A Muppets Christmas Carol.

Pegsy 2014-12-17 06:52:31 -0600 Report

One year they made a version of A Christmas Carol starring Marlo Thomas. I only watched it the one time and haven't seen it since. Wish I could remember the name of it.

RebDee 2014-12-10 01:44:58 -0600 Report

I have had to change my childhood traditions to those of OWL (older wiser lady) as my children live too far to be with me during all 8 days of Chanukah. So we meet once and make a day of it. I make brisket and chicken, potato latkes, apple sauce, and cookies made into draidels with blue sprinkles. There is always leftovers for when I am alone. I light the Chanukah menorah with real candles on my dining room table but I also put electric menorahs in the windows so that everyone in the neighborhood (which is diverse in religions) can see which night of Chanukah it is. Every year, someone who is not Jewish thanks me for allowing them to
partake of my holiday by seeing my menorah each night. I also put out a flag that says Chanukah. Of course I put flags out all year long to match the holidays or seasons..

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-15 04:29:03 -0600 Report

Reb, the city installed a huge menorah at our Harbor. I along with 8 others are being taken by the Police Commissioner to the first lighting of the first candle. I have a friend on the Police Force who is Jewish and he answers my questions about his religion. By the way I love potato latkes and Challah .

RebDee 2014-12-15 05:51:17 -0600 Report

That large menorah is put up in every town where Chabad has a synagogue, and that means almost all towns and cities.

jayabee52 2014-12-16 07:59:38 -0600 Report

We have a Chabad synagogue here in LV. What is Chabad? Only familiar with Orthodox, conservative, and reformed branches of Judaism.

RebDee 2014-12-16 09:35:16 -0600 Report

I think there are two Chabad synagogues in Las Vegas: one in Henderson and one in Summerlin

andy1979 2014-12-09 12:34:38 -0600 Report

A tradition of mine started a few years ago is sending friends/ family a luck symbols for year ahead, be it a small guardian Angel, lucky buddahs or chinese coins wrapped in red string, or as some people may not agree with this but a scratchcard in xmas card with best wishes that they win on lottery. oh my own tradition is finding time to have time to pray in any church local to me before Christmas to wish all people happiness and safety during this festive time.

Pegsy 2014-12-06 10:23:17 -0600 Report

My favorite Christmas traditions are to watch Christmas movies while making out my Christmas cards to mail. I also love to light advent candles and attend or participate in Christmas musicals. A nearby town in my area has a wonderful event called Bethlehem Revisited. It is more than just a living Nativity. It is a realistic, living replica of the entire town of Bethlehem. You really get a feel for how the people lived in that day. It is a wonderful experience to visit this every year. Sometimes I go with family or friends, sometimes I go alone but I do my best not to miss it. But the most important tradition is to lay out the Creche and not put the baby Jesus in the manger until Christmas Eve. It's all about anticipation!

Gathering with family and friends changes every year depending on circumstances and we don't put a lot of emphasis on food but these things mentioned are the constants that make the holiday meaningful for me.

RebDee 2014-12-15 05:53:15 -0600 Report

Growing up I had an Italian girlfriend and was invited to her home for Christmas Eve to eat a dinner of 7 or 9 fishes (I lost count) and then go to midnight mass. I always enjoyed that tradition even though it was not one of mine.

andy1979 2014-12-09 12:40:08 -0600 Report

sounds lovely its nice to know someone remembering the least commercialised part of christmas and doing something nice

tmana 2014-12-06 05:58:40 -0600 Report

Being Jewish, I didn't grow up with many Christmas traditions. The first night of Chanukah, though, we went to my mom's parents (who lived upstairs of us). One of the weekend nights, we got a visit from Dad's mother. Mom and Dad were always scrambling to make sure we had presents or gelt (money) for all eight days. We also had a number of Passover traditions — two sets of them, actually. One set when we had seder by my mother's parents, and the other when Dad made seder in our home.

For many years, my Other Half's family went to his parents Christmas morning. We all had to get up early to get some food and get all our presents opened before the first visitors (so they could see what we got each other). We had a cookie spread, and the Other Half's father would cook sausage and turkey and bake refrigerator biscuits, serving sausage or turkey biscuits to everyone. He'd also pass around JD and Coke. His aunt and uncle would come and leave early, because they had the big Christmas dinner for their family; we'd get the farther-away family coming during that time of the day, and then take a rest before the early evening crowd. Then we'd go out visiting everyone else to see their trees and gifts.

GabbyPA 2014-12-06 13:02:18 -0600 Report

Holidays are holidays, no matter the faith you choose. It's all centered around what is important to us and our families. I think it's great when you can have a blended holiday in the family.

lilleyheidi 2014-12-06 03:31:19 -0600 Report

Traditions, I love them. Until my Mom passed away about 8 years ago, my family was very close and we always got together. Christmas morning tradition was a cup of hot cocoa or coffee while everyone opened their stockings, yes, everyone, even the adults got stockings and they were always much more fun than the gifts under the tree. Since my Mom passed away, and the kids are all adults now (my son is 30 now) we have all kind of gone on our separate ways and aren't quite as close although the past 3 years we've tried to build some new traditions.
Now the new traditions that we are doing is about a week or so before Christmas my ex husband and I get together and "kidnap" my son and daughter and take them somewhere special for an evening. Last year we took them to New Hampshire International Speedway to see the Christmas lights, they decorate the entire speedway with holiday lights, and it is just beautiful. Then we all went out for a cup of hot cocoa. We are planning to do that again this year.
We, also, go out for breakfast every Christmas morning. We meet at a little diner that has the BEST breakfasts in the area and wear our Christmas finery and buy the most expensive thing on the menu and laugh and chow down and enjoy each others company without the commercialization of the day.
Later in the day we reconvene to have dinner and open gifts. And then go to my sisters home and share gifts with her and then go to our own homes and crash for the night.
It's usually a pretty simple day, but that breakfast together, my son, daughter and ex husband and I is the best tradition we have started.
Happy Holidays.

BreC 2014-12-05 14:59:40 -0600 Report

As a child we had Christmas on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day was spent traveling to Grandparents homes. It officially became Christmas at our house when Daddy cut the fresh Coconut Cake. It was always his favorite. Now we light a candle for those who have passed on and say a prayer. At my home we have finger foods. By the time everyone has been to this or that house we are tired of the big meal. I do fix a ham though. My grandkids request sausage balls, pigs in a blanket, and homemade chicken strips. And of course the homemade candy.

TsalagiLenape 2014-12-05 13:11:05 -0600 Report

Well it seems like I will be doing whatever my Mom and Dad along with my Twin brother is or will be doing, So looking forward to those moments. LOL I do the same on Thanksgiving day Turkey Ham for Christmas day. Also we have several birthday's in December including our 4 year old on Christmas day. Mind you my honey and I adopted 36 kids back in November. So that is part of my Christmas present. Hugs Merry Christmas btw what is a Moravian Star? Just curious

GabbyPA 2014-12-05 18:30:33 -0600 Report

We are loaded with December birthdays too, and it makes it interesting to try to keep them separate from Christmas. My step grandma's birthday was December 24....ok as an adult, but rough as a kid.

I grew up in the Moravian Faith. Here is what ours looked like. It is paper cones that go together kind of like a puzzle. I used to stare at it for hours. It always fascinated me.

tabby9146 2014-12-09 16:19:49 -0600 Report

My birthday was Dec. 5th I love having a Dec. birthday, but I can't ever splurge on myself, since I am still saving and spending for Christmas gifts. sometimes I'd really like to just be able to do that.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-05 12:49:20 -0600 Report

In our family it was always making Ginger Cookies. The recipe was my grandmothers so today the recipe is over 100 years old. Under no circumstances will I change it to a diabetic version because it does not have exact measurements. The first time my mom let me make them I was intimidated because it starts with a 2lb bag of flour and goes from there. I was a teenager and rolling them out was a challenge. We only made them at Christmas and we do not decorate them. I would pour a glass of ice cold milk and wait for them to come out of the oven. Mom would allow us to eat two or three depending on if she baked them before or after dinner.

When decorating the tree we always used the first ornaments my dad gave my mom for their first Christmas. Now I won't touch them because they are so delicate I am terrified of breaking one. My sister and I started collecting Christmas ornaments from different States we visited on our trips. She was in Maine doing Habitat for Humanity and they stopped in the Maine State Prison Store. She bought me an ornament that is hand carved out of Maple by one of the prisoners. it even has the prisoners number on the bottom. I also put candy canes on the tree but no one can touch them until after Christmas.

Now I have collected Nut Crackers and they go on the mantle in the Living Room. My sister collected all of the stuffed characters from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer and we build the Island of Misfit Toys on the mantle in the dining room.

We always had to have Christmas music playing when making cookies and decorating the tree. We always had Turkey and Ham for Christmas Dinner along with all of the sides. I love Christmas most of all.

Pegsy 2014-12-14 16:29:40 -0600 Report

I have a collection of nutcrackers too. My dad sends me a new one every year. Unfortunately I don't care to fill my house with them every year so they just stay in a box and the only one that gets displayed is the new one he sends that year. Many years ago I bought myself just one and he turned it into a collection, LOL. I am not really much of a collector.

RebDee 2014-12-15 06:04:43 -0600 Report

I love collecting elephants so of course I have all the character ones: Dumbo, Horton the Who, Hefalump, etc. But I also have lamps, tables, masks, plates, pictures, posters, calendars, and statues in all media. Plus the last gift my husband gave me for my birthday was a necklace of all different colored jade elephants. I have friends who look to see what elephant I am wearing on my clothing as I always wear an elephant. And I have 9 Chanukah menorahs that are elephants.

Glucerna 2014-12-05 17:21:55 -0600 Report

I have a collection of nutcrackers, too, Joyce! I got the first few when we lived in Germany, and then collected for a few years after that. Lots of good memories. ~Lynn @Glucerna

tabby9146 2014-12-05 10:09:46 -0600 Report

Growing up, one tradition was that my parents, brother and I always went together to pick out the tree at a tree farm. We got a very tall, fat tree. sometimes it was a scotch pine, Virginia pine, frazier fur, Leland cypress or other. Once I got married, we did the same thing and when my kids came along. Another one, we always attended Christmas Eve communion and other church services during Dec. that were special. Once I had kids, we made sure to take them to a holiday movie, whichever one they close, and drive around to see the lights, including a very large display of millions of lights at a tourist attraction near me. We also do stockings. We always have ham and turkey. We always had my side of the family on christmas day, and on christmas eve night, opening presents with my hubby's family. My dad passed away many years ago, and this year, my mother is in rehab. for a long time but at least we can go to her Christmas day. When my kids were little, I would make special crafts with them and special cookies and other desserts. We go to our town's annual tree lighting ceremony. I love traditions!!

tabby9146 2014-12-05 10:04:28 -0600 Report

I love those traditions Gabby! We have always observed Advent in my church and in my home growing up and now too.

tabby9146 2014-12-09 16:37:52 -0600 Report

another tradition watching Christmas movies!! Especially on Hallmark and the UP channel!

RebDee 2014-12-15 06:08:02 -0600 Report

I taped all of the Christmas movies on Hallmark Station. There have been so many. I still wonder why there is not one Chanukah movie. I get to watch at least one Christmas movie each day and there are still so many more left to watch this month.

Pegsy 2014-12-17 07:02:27 -0600 Report

My daughter's family celebrates Chanukah so I enjoy participating in that with them. I too am disappointed that I cannot find a single Chanukah movie.

GabbyPA 2014-12-09 20:54:38 -0600 Report

I just watched a cute one on Hallmark. Seeing things that touch the heart is good for the soul.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-12-05 13:00:18 -0600 Report

We always got a live tree or got one that my cousin cut down on my Grandmothers property or in the woods. My uncle would tie it to the roof of the car and bring it to the city to us. Then mom got tired of pine needles everywhere so she bought an artificial tree. We would then go get the boughs cut off of trees and put them in the house to get the pine smell.

I don't go to tree lighting's. Way too many people and parking is horrendous. Last night they light our Washington Monument. I can go to my corner to see the top of it when it is lit.

Here in Baltimore, we have 34th Street. Every house of one block is decorated, you can go into the homes to see their decorations and get hot chocolate and cookies. It is free but they ask for donations. The power company gives them a break on their electric bill.

Several years ago a Jewish couple moved on the block and they said they don't celebrate Christmas. When you buy a house there you have to decorate so the neighbors got together and got Menorah's and Drediels and decorated for them and they really enjoyed being able to participate.
The street has made one of the top 10 places to view Christmas decorations in the country.

There is a house not far from that area where the owners have a lighted Nativity Scene on the roof with a green alien. People have nearly had accidents when they see that. It is hilarious watching peoples faces the first time they see it. The first time I saw it, I was driving to work. I didn't think I saw what I saw so I drove around the block to take a second look. I had never noticed that the alien is always on the roof.

valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-12-05 09:53:43 -0600 Report

Hi Gabby,
My first tradition is midnight mass in the Catholic Church on Christmas Eve. Next turkey for Thanksgiving, but standind rib roast
for Christmas. For Christmas Eve is always lasagna, a traditional Italian dinner for both days. We always open gift on. Christmas Eve, just one, my children finally caught on it was PJ's. They had to look nice for pictures the next morning.
LOL …that is about it for traditions. I' m anxious to make new
traditions with James, starting this year as he's coming here for
Christmas thru New years day. I'm so excited, it was suppose to be a surprise but he ended up telling me. Happy Holidays to you
and your family.

RebDee 2014-12-15 06:09:53 -0600 Report

I hope that both of you have a happy and healthy week of Christmas and New Years togethr.

Glucerna 2014-12-05 17:18:39 -0600 Report

How exciting for the two of you to start new holiday traditions of your own! ~Lynn @Glucerna

valentine lady
valentine lady 2014-12-07 10:29:34 -0600 Report

Hi Llynn,
Thank you for your compliment about James and I. We're both excited to start our new traditions for the
holidays. As James said we have "new love"and that's the most exciting. Making new memories and all. Thank you again, it meant a lot. Happy Holidays!

suecsdy 2014-12-05 12:53:32 -0600 Report

So happy for you and James. I hadn't't seen any posts from you lately and wondered how you were doing. Hope everything is good for you and you have a wonderful holiday.

jayabee52 2014-12-05 09:48:02 -0600 Report

Howdy Gabby
Many of your traditions sound a lot like mine. I do go to the "midnight" (actually starts at 11 pm) candlelight christmas worship service at our congregation. I have been doing this for many years. I grew up with the division of turkey for Thanksgiving and ham for Christmas. Many other of the foods swere the same, like candied yams and green bean cassarole with french fried onions on top and pumpkin pie.

It will be interesting to make new traditions with Valentine lady when I go see her on Christmas Day.

God's blessings to you and yours this holiday seaon