Christmas Traditions Your Family Will Love

Many people ask me what we do for Christmas and how we keep the family feeling united during all the hustle and bustle of the holidays. One of those ways is traditions.   I am excited to have an article for you about some of the Peck family's favorite traditions.

Family traditions are so important for fostering love and unity at home.  The Christmas holidays give us great family activities to anticpate, and offer us more reasons to deliberately spend time together.  These family gatherings and extra activities are the very magic of Christmas.  Without them, the holidays would only be about symbols and comercialism, and not relationships.  The holiday relationships with family and friends establish the lasting relationship with your favorite holidays for life. 

Here Are Some Of Our Favorite Traditions:

*The Sunday before Christmas we go caroling to our neighbors.  Sometimes the singing is more polished than others, but we don't care one way or the other, we love dropping in on our neighbors and giving an old fashioned kind of gift; connection and good cheer.

*On the night of December 23rd we lay under the Christmas tree and read as many Christmas stories as we can until we get sleepy.  You know how you buy all those beautiful Christmas books throughout the years?  Well, give yourself a reason to use them by making a special event the family will look forward to.  It is also a perfect day to keep the family up late so that on Christmas Eve everyone is more tired.  (wink)

*From December 12-December 24 we read a special collection of short stories.  We read one each day as part of our family canon time.  Some of the stories are: The Christmas Scout, Golden Shoes For Jesus,  Aaron's Christmas Tree,  and The Year Of The Flexible Flyers...   (warning, these stories will make you cry)

*Little Jack Horner is a special Christmas game we play on Christmas Eve at our family party.  After the meal, and acting out the nativity we all gather around a large wash tub covered in wrapping paper.  Coming out of the paper are lots of strings.  Each string has a name on it; one for each of us.  After we have all found our strings we practice the old Mother Goose rhyme "Little Jack Horner."  Once the practice run is completed we do it again for real.  "Little Jack Horner, sat in a corner eating his Christmas pie.  He stuck in his thumb, and pulled out a plum, and said, 'what a good boy am I."  When we say, "pulled out a plum"  we all pull on our strings.  At the end of each string is a small gift.  These are our Christmas Eve gifts.  One key thing here is it doesn't really matter what the gifts are, it's the process of pulling them out that makes it so fun and memorable.  (This idea was made up by my grandfather, George Gundry)

*Christmas eve is also a time for sharing talents.  Each child gets to share a talent at the family party.  When I was a child my grandfather had us all do a talent before we could get a gift from whatever cousin had our name for Christmas that year.  This made the gift giving part of the evening also the entertainment.  It also makes the gift giving last longer.  Note:  this tradition will keep your children busy all day on Christmas Eve too.  Then they have something constructive to prepare for while you are doing last minute preparations for the big day. 

*We don't believe in making Christmas too extravagant so we limit our gifts to three.  Each child gets three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The gold gift is something they want.  The frankincense gift is something they need.  And, the myrrh gift is a family gift.  Besides these three gifts they get small things in their stockings.  This is enough for our family.  Anymore, and they just seem to get greedy and unappreciative.   

*Presents for Jesus: Each year on Christmas Eve our family has a tradition to give Jesus presents. We all decide what we can do, or correct in our lives and dedicate the decision to Jesus for his birthday.  We are going to have a special stocking, or wrapped box this year to start saving the letters in.  I think it would be great fun to look at them when the children are grown.  This is one of our favorites!  It seems to put the holiday in better perspective too. 

*Christmas morning breakfast on the fine china dishes.  We have the same breakfast every year complete with a homemade cinnamon roll Christmas tree.  It's the fancy dishes and goblets that make it so fun for the Children. 

*This last one I am going to share is actually a New Year's Tradition.  My mom and her friend made up when I was young.  My mom always hid Christmas presents so well that some wouldn't be found for Christmas.  They would turn up about a week later.  So, to solve this present hiding problem, and make New Year's Day more fun this tradition was invented.  On New Year's Eve, after my husband has played Auld Lang Syne on his trumpet for the neighborhood, and we have pounded what music we can out of our pots and pans we take our pots and put them under the Christmas tree.  In the morning there is a New Year's gift to enjoy.  My parents told me that Santa dropped one more off on his way back to the North Pole.  (Whether you use this excuse or not, it makes New Year's day fun and keeps the children busy while the parents have a sleep in day.) 

Our family has so many traditions I could go on and on, but I think this is an ample list.  Maybe next year I will add to it. 

Christmas time is a gift to all families.  It is a time of forgiveness, love, and renewal of relationships.  Allow your family to become closer this Christmas by making some new family traditions; what ever they might be. 

Merry Christmas!

Nicholeen

Comments

#1
Home School Coach's picture

Nicholeen,

This was so wonderful that I sent it along to all of my family. I know that they will want to add some of these wonderful traditions to their families. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas.

#2
Lori in FL's picture

I love your Christmas traditions---thanks for sharing! We also do the big fancy Christmas breakfast on china, and sing carols at a retirement home nearby (Valentine's, Easter, Mother's Day and Veteran's Day too).
A few of the traditions we have done for a long time are:
*anything that Santa gives is always wrapped in white tissue, messages and to/from written on with red marker (Never any tags or bows used....they would get lost in his huge sack & sleigh)
*we choose a family or two that has a need of some kind and deliver a figure of the nativity each night of the 12 days of Christmas (either Dec 25 or 26 to Jan 5 or 6, or Dec 14-25 or 13-24th).
*we harvest citrus fruit from our trees and divide it into bags and deliver a bag to all of our neighbors and friends.
*we make kumquat marmalade out of that crop together and deliver jars of our homemade treat as Christmas gifts.
*we read (and when the children were younger they dressed up & acted it out) Luke 2 together in front of the fireplace on Christmas Eve before prayers and bed.
*when gift-giving time comes, each person gathers the gifts they are GIVING and their 'turn' is to GIVE and watch with joy the receiving. This has been hugely effective in shifting their focus that day to giving rather than receiving.

#3
anonyomous's picture

I have taken some of your ideas and intertwined them with my own and after researching have come up with our new family traditions we are trying this year. I always hated how after Christmas morning there was nothing. A month of anticipation and then a climax and nothing. So these are our new traditions. We will have Christmas eve etc. as usual. We give one gift on Christmas eve of pajamas. We are going to incorporate this with your little jack horner and put a string around thier pajama gift.

Then Christmas morning will be 1 santa gift and then family gifts. our children's gifts to eachother, school made presents, etc. Stockings from santa. As well as any family gifts.

Then about 2 days after Christmas we will celebrate Candlemas. This is when Christ was presented at the temple as a baby. It is a very symbolic holiday where candles are lit. They have a feast of the presentation. I will give a gift of a temple picture that will have the wrapping paper inside-out to make it white on the outside. Some of the children will get a picture of Christ instead. This is symbolic of turning from Christmas to the future, or our missions on earth. The focus is to the light of the world, Christ.

This is a continuation of our Christmas season. As a family our Christmas season or Epiphany season is what we will call it is not over. Our family will also celebrate the visit of the magi.

I have taken some of the worlds traditions and meanings and created our personal Candlemas.

Although others celebrate it in January, I saw it fitting to celebrate it between Christmas and New Years because of the purpose of the holiday- is to turn from Christmas to New Years.

What will take place...

We will Light candles. Talking about the symbolizim as Christ being presented to the world- now there is light in the world where it was dark- He is the light of the world.

Eat dinner- This is our fancy Christmas dinner with ham, turkey, etc. Because now that there is light in the world, there is reason to celebrate. and it is called the Feast of the Presentation.

We will Give gifts of money and candy. And gifts of the temple. Things that point to the future and goals.

We are welcome to wear something white. As the color for the season is White.

What is Candlemas?

Candlemas is about the presentation of Christ at the temple. This took place after Mary was pronounced clean after the birth of Jesus. This is where Christ would have been circumsized. They would have brought two doves to sacrifice at the temple. It is where in the scriptures it tells of the old man at the temple who, before he died, held baby Jesus.

It is a celebration of Out with the old and in with the new year. Setting goals. It is about turning from our focus on Christmas and Turning toward the future or the new year. Looking to the light of the world -Christ. We remember Christmas but focus on our missions.

Looking toward our mission on earth. Setting goals. Looking toward the Temple. Which we will talk a little about.

We will Start a memory box with a short note from each family member with their Christmas Wish for the coming year. As each year goes by, open the box to share the wishes of the year before.

Christmas wish for the coming year is put in a box and they will be brought out each year and looked at. To Celebrate Christmas Past.

Get out the photos of Christmases past.

taking time to celebrate what has past and what the future holds.

Candles are lit or given as gifts. Symbolizing light to the world and making covenants. A great time to go to the temple.

The Feast of the Presentation depends on the date for Christmas: As per the passage from the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22-40) describing the event in the life of Jesus, the celebration of the Presentation of the Lord follows. The blessing of candles on this day recalls Simeon's reference to the infant Jesus as the "light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Luke 2:32). From a Christian perspective, therefore, there is

no independent meaningfulness to the date of the Feast of the Presentation or to the blessing of candles on that day from which the name "Candlemas" derives.

Feast of the Presentation The Epiphany season is seen as a continuation of the Christmas season, and together they last forty days. The events focused on during the Epiphany season are the visit of the Magi, the Presentation of Jesus.The visit of the Magi is traditionally interpreted as symbolic of God's revelation of himself to the Gentiles, and so one of the themes of the season is mission. . The season culminates at the Feast of the Presentation, after which the liturgy stops looking back to Christmas and begins looking forward to the Passion. The colour for the season is white.

Then a day or two later we will celebrate the visit of the Magi. This is where we open our 3 gifts of the magi. the Gold is Joyful, the Myrrh is needful, and the Frankinsence is Meaningful. We also have a celebration on this day.

Celebrate the wise men coming with a big feast and the gifts of the magi. Begin the party with the Cake with 2 beans for the wise men. Or King and Queen. Who ever gets the beans gets to be Kings or Queens for the Day. Symbolizing Christ as a King and we are His. Those who got the beans are masters of the Ceremony. They tell us when we are to do things. Remembering who we are truly. The lower become higher the higher become lower. We read the Story of The Mansion Pres. Monson talks about. Anyone can become what they dream to be. Again goals and dreams are focused on in preperation for the new year.

Edible wise men, Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus figures on the cake made of sugar.

Another tradition we are starting is dinner with the king. Our children vary between 3 and 17 years old. so we are thinking of traditions that will continue as they bring thier families to ours for Christmas. So we are starting this tradtion of dinner witht the king- where we have a small baby that is placed on someone's cake or plate the first day of our Epiphany season (which could be Christmas eve's eve of which we now call "Little Christmas Eve" from another country-) but whoever has this baby jesus on thier cake or plate the first night- hosts dinner the next night and as they are hosting they place the baby on someone elses plate to host the next night. This continues till new years. As they are all still home, I have the meals planned and they will just help to get ready and serve now as children, it puts into the framework for a future when certain families will host Christmas eve, Candlemas and the visit of the Magi. Our Epiphany season. I believe this will help with after Christmas blues. Because putting away Christmas is part of the 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany season. Look up what Epiphany means and you will see why it is all so symbolic.

We will also do your tradition of a new years gift that santa left on his way back through.

We also have a focus each week in December for family home evenings and nightly scripture verse studies. We focus on the meanings of each magi gift in the scriptures etc. One a week. This has truely changed how I focus on Christ and the symbolizim of Him.

I also try to have my families Christmas shopping done by December 1st so that I can focus on giving to those in need and building family traditions instead of worrying about shopping in December unless it is for others in need.

Other world traditions for this visit of the magi time are that
Tricks could be played as well such as startling someone by putting birds in the pie crust when opening. Sing a song of six pense “when the pie was opened, the birds began to sing” The king being the one who had the bean in thier cake. This is where this nursery rhyme comes from.

Other items hidden in the cake could be:
Get the rag you are the scullery maid. You have dinner clean-up
Get the twig you are the fool, comedian, jester. You are the entertainment- they half to do a talent.
Get the glove you are the Villain. Any time someone needs something you fetch it. (go-for)

Cinnamon roll wreath. drink is a hot and spicy punch called wassail. Ginger Snaps.

We also go to the movies one time during the week just as Shakespeare presented plays during this time. There is no symbolisim to this- it is just for fun.

sorry for the length but I thought it might interest you.

#3.1
Nicholeen Peck's picture

Wow! These are great ideas! I'm sure many people will be grateful you shared all of this. It sounds like your family is going to have a fun, spiritual, and unifying Christmas! Oh, I love Christmas! I can't wait.... Thank you again. I might need to steal a few of your ideas. :)

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