Monday 23 November 2015

It's tradition

I vividly remember my Christmases past. Father Christmas delivering to me my first bike, in the snow, whilst my Dad had mysteriously disappeared. Meeting Father Christmas at the grotto at the school we lived next to during a festive fayre and thinking that he wore the same wedding ring as my Dad but I still promised I'd been a good girl just in case. 

Leaving a carrot for Rudolf and a glass of sherry and a mince pie by the fireplace for the man in the red suit. Opening my stocking on my parent's bed and having chocolate for breakfast. 

Playing games after Christmas dinner with my grandparents and opening our special table gifts. 

My husband has many fond memories too, such as opening all his Christmas presents on Christmas Eve after midnight mass every year and playing his new video game and completing it by Christmas Day night. 

We both love the season so much and it gets even more magical every year as Ethan grows and understands more of the sentiment and tradition.

We keep many of the usual traditions and have several of our on too. It's what makes Christmas Christmas, in my opinion.

But do you ever wonder where some of them first originated?

* Decorating a tree - the first decorated tree is thought to date back to Pagans and Christians at the time of winter solstice. Fir branches and follage was used to decorate their homes and to signify the coming spring and then a Christmas tree was given to Queen Victoria by her husband, brought from Germany, and the whole idea really took on.

* Hanging stockings - St Nicholas, patron saint of children, according to legend threw gold coins down the chimney of a poor family's house and they fell into a stocking. Hence the gold chocolate coins we have all come to love, and the hanging of stockings each year

* Pulling crackers - these were invented by a sweet maker, Thomas Smith, in 1847. He popped mottos inside and added a strip of paper coated in a chemical to make the sweet pop when opened. Over time, the sweet was replaced with a gift and the idea of the cracker was born.

* Wreath on the door - this apparently goes back to the Roman era as a sign of honour and victory. The circular shape symbolises eternal life and the greenery new life.

* Advent calendars - this tradition is said to have started in 19th century in Germany when people would mark the days to Christmas with chalk on their doors, and the first advent calendar was made in 1851 (you can see ours here).

* Sending Christmas cards - the first card was commissioned in the UK in 1843 by Victorian entrepreneur Sir Henry Cole, as he was too busy to write individual cards to his family. The Royal family then started sending Christmas cards and their popularity grew. Despite the modern age - Facebook message, e-card or Elf Yourself app, anyone? - some 800 million boxes of cards were sold this time last year.

* Kiss under mistletoe - to druids, mistletoe symbolised healing and fertility and in Scandinavia, myths associated it with the goddess of love. The idea of kissing under mistletoe was a way of wishing luck on girls waiting to marry. 

So, what are our Christmas traditions? Well, I'm sure we will probably make more along the way, as Ethan gets older, but here are the key things we'll be enjoying as a family in the lead up to and on 25th December:

 * I like to go see the Christmas light switch on in town, as a nice way to kick things off.

* Making a date to see Santa is right at the top of our list now (and I've compiled a list of places to see him in the Midlands in case you're hoping to do the same).

* We open our family advent calendar to nibble a chocolatey treat and read a Christmassy task for us to do together, from watching Elf to making gingerbread.

* Sending a letter to Santa from Ethan is a must, so he knows he's been a good boy and what he might like as a present. You can post yours via Royal Mail, with a self addressed envelope, before 6th December to be sure of a response. 

* Every Christmas Eve, we will all have new festive pyjamas to wear.

* The Muppets Christmas Carol is our Christmas Eve film of choice and we have to be in bed and asleep before midnight (not before leaving something for Santa and his reindeer). 

* We'll be allowed to open one present each before we go to sleep, which Santa forwarded to us in advance for good behaviour. I bought some mini personalised sacks especially.

* Throughout Christmas Eve, you can track Santa's progress via NORAD - apparently, Rudolf's red nose sends a signal so you can keep an eye on where they have visited, ready to wave to them as they swoosh overhead!

* Stockings get opened on Christmas morning before breakfast and it's ok if our first meal of the day is a Terry's chocolate orange.

* Christmas jumpers, no excuses. Even the dog.

* Family photo in front of the Christmas tree. We began this with bump and have kept it up every year since.

* Christmas presents before dinner, one at a time and in turn. I like to make it last as long as possible!

* Games after dinner - the 'who am I?' game was a classic in our family.

What are your Christmas traditions? What are you most looking forward to this year?


No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by pipdig