Christmas Traditions

Christmas traditions vary so much from person to person and family to family and I find them fascinating. I’ve always been very particular about ours and now with my own family I am even more conscious of it as I am making the somewhat awkward transition from my childhood Christmas (ie, spent with my parents, siblings and grandma) to a Christmas where I am the “provider” of Christmas for my own child. I’m thinking about what traditions I want to carry on with TTB, what ones I want to start and what things I really can’t be bothered to do in reality. (Lazy? me? noooo.)

First of all, Advent Calendars. For me, and Advent Calendar must be made of paper and have pictures behind the doors instead of chocolate. I don’t want any kind of chocolate near my Advent calendar, thank you very much. The calendar must be Christmas themed with some kind of Nativity story, wintery scene, Christmas tree, Father Christmas etc. The pictures inside the doors should be things like bells, holly, presents, angels, Christmas puddings etc.

Christmas books are important. At home we have a box of Christmas books that only come down from the loft at Christmas, usually with the decorations. It was always a much longed for event and we’d spend hours and hours reading the Christmas books. Obviously this got shorter as we got older but even now (aged 26, 22, 20 and 18) we all delight in pouring over the books we loved as children. I started to collect my own copies of the Christmas books a few years ago and am enjoying adding new ones to the collection, such as the one I bought at Salt’s Mill. Rachel has gifted TTB some Christmas books this year including “Spot’s First Christmas” and a beautiful copy of The Night Before Christmas. Patch has given him Mog’s Christmas and “Father Christmas” which made me “squeee” when I opened them as he’d been so thoughtful. I have already bought Lucy and Tom’s Christmas which was our mutual favourite and also The Jolly Christmas Postman (random fact: we did this as a play when I was in Primary school and I was the narrator.)

As a new tradition I am considering giving TTB a new Christmas book every Sunday of Advent. It’s as much for me as for him!

Christmas MUST involve fairy lights, the more the better. I like to have both white and coloured on my tree.

Christmas trees should be real if at all possible. This year we will actually HAVE a tree in my house because now we have heating we don’t need the gas fire on and thus there is space for a tree. Our living space is tiny, we all cram into the dining room (only room available as lounge is still not finished) and yeah, the size and layout really limit what I can do. I do try not to get too miserable about this but it’s hard sometimes!

Growing up, the Christmas tree was always decorated with great ceremony on Christmas Eve. We all loved doing it on Christmas Eve, it was a real event and there is nothing, nothing like the feeling sitting in the room gazing at the decorated, lit up Christmas tree and knowing absolutely one hundred percent that it is Christmas TOMORROW. That’s what the decorated tree signifies: the day you have been aching to arrive is TOMORROW. Having the tree decorated before that just isn’t the same. However, for our new traditions in our family this may not be practical and I’m just happy that we can have a tree at all! (Not that we have purchased a tree yet …)

Father Christmas is a huge part of Christmas and it’s fascinating how people vary on how they do this. I intend to do it exactly how it was done for me as a child. That is, having a lovely large stocking that we would leave out along with a mince pie, carrot and a glass of something and then would be filled by Father Christmas during the night. It was either left outside our bedroom door or outside the closed living room door (not allowed in there until everyone was ready) for us to open in the morning. We could open our stockings when we wanted, and usually this was in the very early hours crammed onto one of our beds. The first child who noticed the full stockings would then alert the other three and we’d all open them together. Great fun! Stocking gifts were from Father Christmas, all other gifts were received from the actual person, eg our parents.

Our stockings always contained some nuts, a satsuma and chocolate coins. Mine were always silver ones because I didn’t like the milk chocolate coins. I only like chocolate coins if they are white, but that’s the only time I like white chocolate!

In the run up to Christmas, we always watched “The Tailor of Gloucester” that we’d recorded from the telly, and various other Christmas films. I’m looking forward for TTB to be old enough to enjoy watching “The Snowman” and “Father Christmas” with me.

After Christmas, the decorations would stay up until the 6th of January (12th night) and then my mum would pack them all up while we were at school and we’d come home to a lovely pristine house with a bunch of flowers but it would all feel very empty and bare once everything was packed away!

I really think that Christmas is what you make it :-)

20 thoughts on “Christmas Traditions

  1. Sarah A says:

    How exciting to begin your own traditions (either from childhood or new)with your family. I love hearing how others spend the holidays and their traditions.. Enjoy Heather!

  2. What a lovely post, made me think back to how my family used to do things when I was little. I think myself and my partner, while it has just been the two of us, have let things slip but it is so fun to think of a time when we will have children and can (re)establish Christmas traditions and routines. Hope you enjoy your family Christmas!

  3. Wendy says:

    We have certain traditions some carrid on from my childhood and others that developed when my children were small. The main one, presents are not opened until after Christmas dinner and the washing up is done. This originanated when I was small because my dad was a postman and worked Christmas morning. So we had stckings on our beds and learnt to wait. But it was always worth it. :)

  4. Anne Marie says:

    I’m not really one for Christmas but think your version sounds really lovely. Like only decorating the tree on Christmas Eve, the German way. As I spent time in Germany I love that. I can’t get over how people put trees up sometimes in November, everything has been brought forward.

    You seem to have the true spirit of what I remember as a child, like books, and special things. You hardly ever hear of people buying books nowadays.

    I hope you have a lovely time with TTB and treasure these early memories that you are making..

  5. Brenda says:

    It’s so interesting to read others traditions like you said. In Australia the tree and all the decorations go up the beginning of December and come down in the new year. In our house Stockings can be gone through when you wake up and you must wait for everyone to be up before you visit the tree (same as you) but all presents are from Santa with one from the parents. Enjoy your first Christmas as a mum. xxBrenda oh, good luck with the no chocolate advent one TTB is at school! ;-)

  6. Catherine says:

    Aw your Christmas traditions sou.d very much like ours! One question though, my children have a fabric advent calendar that I made myself when the eldest was about ttb size, but I was recently lamenting the demise of “proper advent calendars” , so where in the world do you buy your ones from?

  7. Liz T says:

    I’m becoming a Grinch about Christmas but I used to love it when I had a little one. I don’t like our tree up any earlier than the week before Christmas but as we’re not going to be home this year I’m not bothering at all. Never too early to start children on Christmas books and films – TTB can listen to you reading to him now (and I’ll bet you already do read to him) and he’ll at least like watching The Snowman or whatever for a few minutes and he can hear it while mummy is watching as well as doing milk tanker duties. I’ve treated myself to a Jacquie Lawson (online) advent calendar for the last couple of years and this year I’ve shared with my grandsons, “surrogate nephew” and a couple of friends – wonderful,interactive and not a chocolate in sight! The big kids like it as much as the littlies.

  8. One-oh-four says:

    Some lovely ideas for starting your own traditions! One tradition we have is “table presents” – with the Xmas dinner – just tiny, silly gifts but anticipated almost as much as the “real” presents, and they keep everyone occupied whilst I do last minute kitchen stuff before serving dinner.

    Until last year we had a lovely felt advent calendar with pockets for each day of Advent. I used to put tiny gifts in (one year was 24 Lego pieces that built up into a model by Xmas day), other years have been stickers and pens / pencils / other stationery. But last year it went missing, so I relented and bought chocolate ones instead. It was eventually found ( had gone down the back of the drawer under the bed so was buried in the bed base). But the kids said they were too old for little gifts and I decided I was too old to traipse around looking for them, so they have chocolate ones again this year.

  9. When I was a little girl, a VERY long time ago, the Christmas tree magically appeared every Christmas morning on the sideboard in the dining room. It was artificial and small by today’s standards but to my amazement it was the SAME tree that Father Christmas brought every year, with exactly the SAME ornaments on it! How did he remember everything so perfectly? In fact the tree dated back to 1936, the first Christmas after my eldest sister was born. What a pity we still don’t have it and the decorations, they would all be antiques ! Interestingly the tree had metal candle holders that clipped onto the branches, rather like the old fashioned crimping curlers used to create hair waves. They had little candles which were lit with matches! What would the Health and Safety people make of that today?!

  10. When I was a little girl, a VERY long time ago, the Christmas tree magically appeared every Christmas morning on the sideboard in the dining room. It was artificial and small by today\’s standards but to my amazement it was the SAME tree that Father Christmas brought every year, with exactly the SAME ornaments on it! How did he remember everything so perfectly? In fact the tree dated back to 1936, the first Christmas after my eldest sister was born. What a pity we still don\’t have it and the decorations, they would all be antiques ! Interestingly the tree had metal candle holders that clipped onto the branches, rather like the old fashioned crimping curlers used to create hair waves. They had little candles which were lit with matches! What would the Health and Safety people make of that today?!

  11. chinagirl says:

    something I wish I’d done with my kids [will do it with grandkids in years to come!!] is buy them each a fancy new [expensive maybe !] tree decoration each xmas..so by the time they leave home they’ll each have a pile of fabulous tree decorations with memories built into them!..Obviously as soon as they are old enough it could be a special time going out to each choose that years new one. We’ve always baked Christmas mince pies and scoffed them while the tree was being decorated, and made and iced xmas biscuits and rolled truffles together a couple days before 25th. and christmas music HAS to be playing while all of this happens.. :)

  12. valerie says:

    My daughters nick name as a child was Angel and each year we bought her an angel tree decoration she now has 21 different ones ready to take when she has her own tree, (mind you ours will look a bit bare with then gone). What about doing something similar and looking for a tiny tin bird each year so he has a collection of his own.xxx

  13. Siobhan says:

    Our Christmas traditions were and are very similar to yours. Both myself as a child and my daughter who is about your age always had a stocking with the same things in it as you had. I always ate everything – the satsuma and the nuts but my daughter didn’t. There was always a russet apple in it too. The tree still goes up on Christmas Eve and with it comes the magic of Christmas and no I will not ever take it down before the 6th of January. I hate how people put their trees up in November or early December and then moan about how fed up they are of Christmas on Boxing Day! Ditto for all the Christmas songs, I don’t want to be fed up of them but still be enjoying them actually at Christmas rather than weeks and weeks before, which totally kills off the festive spirit before it has truly arrived. I would love the tree to be up longer but as you say, there is no better way of heralding Christmas Day itself. My daughter agrees and so there are no decorations or anything up yet. We really love Christmas though!

    Father Christmas also bought the Christmas stocking presents only and people the rest of the presents (otherwise, how do children get to appreciate the thought and care behind them? It also means you are not left explaining why some people get tons from Santa while others far less). There are lots of Santa traditions though and you have to be really careful not to tread on toes and inadvertently expose other people’s traditions to children.

    My daughter always got tons of books as presents as that was what was on her list and there would be a Christmas book among them – Tosca’s Christmas comes to mind (Tosca is a little cat). We also had Mog’s Christmas. Mog is a huge favourite and we had them all and they were much loved as they reminded us of our own kitty very much. A Christmas box of books seems a fabulous idea which I wish I had thought of!

  14. Wow, I moved to England from Germany many years ago and you are the first person ever to say you used to decorate your tree the day before Christmas ready for the big event, just like we used to at home! I’ve never got used to people around me having their tree up about 2 months before Christmas, one week before Christmas is fine by me. I love that you carrying on your family traditions but also trying to make your own for TTB, a baby’s first Christmas is such a magical time. Enjoy the rest of the holiday season.x

  15. Hiya,

    What a lovely post, I particularly like the idea of giving a Christmas book every Sunday in Advent, unfortunately my boys are now too old to appreciate it – savour every moment….

    S x

  16. Wow, I always liked to have the tree up by the 21st because that is my birthday and I always had my picture taken in front of it. These days we put our tree up on the 1st of December. If you had told me that this would be our family tradition 10 years ago I would have laughed – Dec 1st – unthinkable. Then, three years ago my Dad died unexpectedly on Dec 1st and at the same time as we were dealing with that, my son needed a bauble for school the next day. My husband went to get the decorations out that was it – the tree went up. Now, we do it as a happy thing on a sad day. The funny thing is, my Dad would be horrified by having decorations up so early! I completely agree about the advent calendars. We use the same ones each year and the children look forward to their own special calendar coming out of the loft with the tree. I am really not keen on the chocolate ones – it’s just another way of getting people to spend money each Christmas. We have one that can be refilled with sweets every year but there are so many other lovely ideas around on the internet that you can be really creative. Lovely post – enjoy your advent/Christmas.

  17. Lovely post! We have similar traditions in our house, although the tree goes up a little earlier around the second Sunday in advent. We’re a very musical family so christmas is our busiest time of year with all the carol concerts, services and carol singing around the town so we have to get going a bit earlier. Father Christmas does the same with us, delivering a stocking of presents outside the bedroom door after the midnight service which then gets opened on my parents bed on christmas morning, despite me now being 21! Santa has also visited my parents for the last couple of years too…

  18. Sarah says:

    Dear Heather our tree goes up on Christmas Eve too and is taken down on 6th January as my parents did when I was a child. My parents also bought pop up books at Christmas and I did that with my own children. I like to make mince pies on Christmas Eve afternoon and listen to carols. Have a wonderful Christmas with TTB.xx

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