When I was little, my mom started the tradition for our family of celebrating Christmas they way they do all around the world, basically we celebrated as many different ways as possible. We celebrated Scandinavian Christmas, English Christmas, German Christmas, Russian Christmas, even Hannukah which isn’t Christmas, but does happen in December.
Most of the year, I’m a pretty lazy mom as far as celebrating stuff goes. My kids do not get big elaborate birthday parties. All the other holidays get maybe a special dessert and we get together with extended family or friends for a fun afternoon, but that is it. There have been years when for Halloween I bought a bag of candy and we stayed home and watched a movie.
However, in December, I go all out, sort of. I still try to keep it sane, because I’m only human, after all. Here is my plan for this year.
December 1: Decorate the Christmas Tree. Make an advent calendar. (Looks like once again I do not have something beautifully sewn or quilted, so we’ll be doing the paper chain with 24 links, one to be removed each day. Maybe in January we’ll have a blizzard and I’ll get one quilted.)
December 2: First Sunday of Advent. Advent is celebrated all around the world. The word literally means “coming”. It helps us stay focused on Christ and prepare for his coming. On each of the four Sundays before Christmas, we will be reading from the prophesies of Isaiah and other prophets who testified of Christ. We’ll light a candle and read from the scriptures words of light. The first Sunday is the Sunday of Hope. We’ll be reading scriptures that focus on hope, both the hope Christ brings and the hope of the people who watched for his coming for ages:
Isaiah 9: 2, 6-7, Jacob 4:4, Moroni 7:41, Mosiah 16:6-9,
We’ll sing “Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel” as a family
December 3: For family home evening, we will put out our nativity scenes. Italian nativity sets are called presepio. We will also set out a small empty wooden manger. As the children do acts of kindness for others, they can add a piece of straw to the manger in preparation for the arrival of baby Jesus.
December 6: Saint Nicolas Day In the Netherlands and Belgium, children put out their shoes on December 5, with perhaps carrots or hay for St. Nicolas’ horse. Saint Nicolas fills our shoes with nuts & sweets and perhaps small gifts. Read the story of St. Nicolas here.
December 8: The first day of Hannukah. We’ll play the dredel game and eat potato latkes (pancakes) and jelly doughnuts.
December 9: Second Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Preparation & Peace
Luke 1:26-38, Isaiah 11:1-4, Isaiah 52:7
We’ll sing “Oh Come All Ye Faithfull.”
December 10: for family home evening, we’ll go caroling to our neighbors as they do in England. When we get home, we will not burn a Yule Log (as we have no fire place) but we will eat a Yule Log nougat candy. (A disgustingly sweet confection that my dear husband’s family always ate, so he is nostalgic about it.)
December 13: Santa Lucia Day. The children of our house will get up early and led by their oldest sister, bring hot chocolate and cinnamon rolls
in procession to their parent’s bedroom, where we will have a lovely “surprise” breakfast all together.
December 16: Third Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Joy.
Isaiah 12:2-5, Mosiah 3:3-12,
We’ll sing “Joy to the World” of course.
December 17: For family home evening, we’ll make some special birdseed treats to hang in our front yard as they do in Norway.
December 23: Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Sunday of Love.
John 3:16, Isaiah 49:13-16, Moroni 7:47-48,
We’ll sing “Angels we have heard on High.”
Also, we have the Dear Husband’s family coming over for a big Christmas dinner. I’m planning to have a pinata as they do in Mexico
December 24: Christmas Eve
we will read Luke chapter 2 and sing “Away in a Manger.”
December 25: Regular old American Santa Claus will have left presents (always including fruit & toothbrushes) in our stockings. We’ll give gifts to each other. We’ll eat cold cereal and no doubt have a big Christmas feast with my extended family that afternoon.
December 26: Boxing Day We’ll do something of service, perhaps take food to someone in need or something…not sure yet.
New Year’s Eve: We have our Good Riddance Party!
New Year’s Day: We eat Hoppin’ Jon Soup and Rice Pudding. Whoever finds the almond in their pudding gets good luck for the whole year. (Yugoslavia)
January 6: Three Kings’ Day We set out our shoes again as they do in Spain, this time with straw for the camels of the Three Magi. They leave us a present, usually a new journal for the new year 🙂
On all the inbetween days, we’ll be reading Christmas stories, watching as many different versions of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” as we possibly can, and making presents for each other and for our friends. It will be grand.