I’m always Interested in how people from other countries celebrate Christmas or, if any of you are Jewish, Chanukah.
Here in Ireland I’ll be getting together with family on Christmas Day. We, start with Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (avocado and eggs for me as I’m vegetarian) and a glass of Bucks Fizz at around 11am. Then round 4pm we have our Christmas Dinner. Starters are usually something light like a pear and Stilton salad. Then it’s Turkey, ham, herb stuffing, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts, Roast and mashed potatoes followed by either Christmas pudding and brandy sauce or Sherry Trifle and cream (or both of you’ve room!). I just have extra herb stuffing and veg instead of the meat.
Before we we start dinner the oldest person at the table always says a traditional Irish toast "Go mbeire muid beo ar an am seo arís"- which means “may we all be alive this time next year.”
After dinner we open our presents and then generally sit around chatting or maybe playing a board game or two until we have enough room for coffee and mince pies and Christmas cake around 8pm 😄 We never watch TV. We do that the next day (St Stephen’s Day) which is generally the most relaxed day of the year when everyone gets up when they feel like it and chills out for the entire day. We do go for a walk by the sea in the afternoon though.
Anyone else care to share their holiday traditions?
Until I was 9 years old, all my relatives lived in the same neighbourhood. Each family took turns hosting Christmas and New Years at their house. It was wonderful! We were a house full of kids playing, men playing poker, and women cooking. On Christmas Eve, we had lots of fish for dinner and then the kids (I was the second youngest) walked to church for Midnight Mass. We then all slept over - all the kids in one room, the women in another and I think the men just stayed up playing poker. On Christmas morning, we all opened our presents. I read out the names on the wrapped packages, and my younger cousin (who couldn’t read yet) brought them over to the recipients to open. We then all got out of the way while lunch was prepared. It was usually something elaborate like lasagne, followed by lamb. I remember spending the rest of that noisy day playing with our new games and toys.
As the families moved out of the neighbourhood, we no longer spent the night all together. Instead, we had the fish meal on Christmas Eve and then we played board games and card games. At midnight, we opened our presents the same way we always did (even after my cousin learned to read), and then we ate again! This time, we had sausages because it was after midnight and officially Christmas Day. We went home very late (2 or 3 a.m.), and we returned the next day for the big Christmas lunch as always.
My parents had a falling out with my aunt and uncle nearly 20 years ago, so the families stopped getting together. Everyone is civil to each other now, but we still all do our own thing. I’m ok with that! I have very fond memories of Christmas way back then, but I kind of like the quiet Christmas the four of us (my parents my sister and I) now have. Midnight Mass at our church is now televised, so we watch it from home as we open our presents. We try to watch the pope say mass from Rome, too, but it usually interferes with our fish meal.The amount of fish has been greatly reduced because my sister and I aren’t crazy about seafood, but my mother still makes lasagne and lamb for Christmas Day.
I just remembered that until I was about 12, all the cousins would prepare Christmas songs to perform for the grown-ups. I loved it because after singing, we’d pass around my uncle’s hat and they’d give us money (well, pennies) which we’d split. We have a home movie of us singing and acting out Jingle Bell Rock! Ha!
By far, the best Christmas present I’ve ever received was my Easy Bake Oven when I was 8. I still have it.
My fondest Xmas memories are all about being with family. Christmas Eve my Dad would bundle everyone up and we'd go for a drive down through the industrial end of town known as the Chemical Valley (Sarnia is a one of the main centres of the Petro-chemical industry in Canada). Each one of the Petro-chemical plants would hold contests to see which one could put up the best lights display. In some cases the plants would actually change every white light bulb in all the cracking towers to Xmas lights! These displays went on for miles! It made Christmas Eve magical!
On Xmas day we had to be very patient because Xmas didn't start for us until my dad got home from work. He was a railroad engineer and he worked the late shift so often he didn't get home until late in the morning. Especially late if the weather wasn't co-operating or if there was a lot of freight to move. But once Dad got home and out of his work togs we could open our presents!
After the presents were opened, the rest of the day was spent playing games of monopoly and helping mum prepare the dinner. Place of pride was given to one member to scrub the turkey in the sink before it was dressed and popped into the oven. There were always loads fo laughs in store at the contortions we would put that big bird through as we goofed our way through his "bath"!
Most of the traditional foods were served up for our supper (turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy couple of veggies and cranberry sauce) except we never had yams. I think it was because my mum didn't like them. In fact I have never tasted Xmas yams even to this day, so that isn't a traditional Xmas food for me. One food that was a Xmas tradition (and only made at Xmas) was a Jello salad. It was usually layered green and red and had either shredded vegetables in it or fruit.
Xmas night was usually spent watching Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life or the 1951 Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol.
Boxing Day was a relaxed day and mainly just spent playing with toys, outdoor activities or cleaning up from Xmas.
The only other Xmas "adjacent" tradition was watching the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day. We NEVER missed that!
We didn't really have any Xmas traditions with visiting relatives or family friends. My dad worked such long hours on the railroad and had about 3 other part time jobs on top of that, that Xmas was considered sacrosanct as just our immediate family time.
Nowadays, with both my parents being long dead and now both of Dan's parents gone as well, we have our best friend (and her partner) visit us on Xmas Eve and we exchange gifts and spend the evening with her brothers and sisters. Xmas Day is just Dan and I and very quiet. Then Boxing Day we visit with my closest sister. We split it usually with one year I host the dinner and the next year she hosts it. This year we are traveling to Windsor to spend it at her home.
"You're going into the water... short-arse!" - Sherlock
we never had yams. I think it was because my mum didn't like them. In fact I have never tasted Xmas yams even to this day
In my family, it’s mushrooms! We never ate mushrooms at home because my mother was (and still is) terrified of them and refuses to cook them. She believes that they’re poison and we’ll all die if we eat them. I didn’t particularly like them until I was an adult.
I forgot to mention that we’re Italian so we do have some traditionally Italian food at Christmas: salt cod, chestnuts, dried figs, tangerines, artichokes (one of my favourite foods), and desserts like cannoli.
We always went to church Christmas Eve, which really put me in the holiday mood, with all the Christmas carols and candles. Very pretty. On Christmas morning, me and my two older brothers would get up and open our stockings before breakfast. Once my brother woke us up at 4:30 in the morning, lol. My mom would go into Detroit to a certain market there and get these HUGE oranges the size of grapefruits for the toes of our stockings, and they’d also be filled with assorted nuts, and then on the top there’d be a few special items and on the hearth a small, unwrapped present from Santa.
Then we’d have breakfast, which was always my mom’s homemade poppyseed bread and homemade kielbasa with horseradish, since she was Polish and got the recipes from her family. I still have them in her handwriting, and since she’s been gone many years now I treasure them. My bro would pile on the horseradish until tears ran down his face, like it was some kind of endurance contest, lol.
Then mom would insist on a second cup of coffee, which drive us kids crazy, since we couldn’t “do the tree” until she was done. She was just taking the piss because we’d be in *agony* until she finished and our pain amused her. Haha! Then we’d all go downstairs and do the presents, one at a time, taking turns. Santa would bring everyone a big present, like a bike or something, and there were always books, records, and clothes. Lastly, dad would distribute the Christmas money that we got from aunts & uncles & grandparents. As we got older the presents were mostly money, and we were told we *had* to spend it on something nice for ourselves, not spend it on bills (once we hit college).
Then, about 11 am, we’d have one of the pumpkin pies with whipped cream mom had made the day before and dad would start a fire. Michigan in the winter was cold! Just as he lit the match and all the wrapping paper would start to flame up, one of us kids would start shrieking that we couldn’t find our money so that was always a nervous moment. But then it would be found and all would be well.
Then we had to sit down and write thank you notes, and the rest of the day was spent playing with our new stuff, talking a walk in the snowy woods, visiting with friends until dinner, which was the usual roast turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, peas & mushrooms, and the second pumpkin pie for dessert, along with some chocolates Santa had brought.
Now that I’m alone (both my brothers live in England), things are very quiet at my house. It’s just me and my cat Binky. This year I’m going to make a flank steak, which I’ll share with the Binks, mashed potatoes & something green, maybe collards. I’ve got a new recipe for chai spiced snickerdoodles with cinnamon chips I want to try. I like watching old movies that day and listening to Christmas carols.
All my best to you all for a very Happy Christmas! 🥰 🎄
Thanks so much for your replies. Your different Christmas foods are really interesting. i’ve never had Jello Salad or Pumpkin pie and I don’t know what snickerdoodles are! Your Italian Christmas dinner sounds delicious Mllemass.
Yes Christmas was more magical and fun when we were kids. I find it kind of bittersweet now my parents are dead as well as some other relatives and friends who were so much part of the festivities. Their absence brings an underlying sadness to the season. We always have a toast to them at dinner and there are invariably stories of Christmas Past - including the one where my Aunt inadvertently turned the oven off with the Turkey in it. Christmas Dinner was at 8pm that year. 😄
I sing in a choir and we do a Carol Service just before Midnight Mass (which is at 9pm these days) on Christmas Eve and sing throughout the service. That is lovely - there’s a real Christmassy feeling in the air.
My very best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and peaceful Christmas and New Year.
The part of Mexico I live is pretty influenced by American culture so the food is mostly Roast Beef, Turkey, etc. The kids wait for their Santa presents (in central Mexico the presents are by the Three Wise Kings but until January 6th). There are some peculiarities, tho. For example, tamales! Tamales are important! In my house, we usually buy them for breakfast. We eat Roast Beef for dinner and early next day we eat Tamales.
When I was a kid, we usually spend the 24th at my maternal grandmother's house. The women did the Tamales during all day which was a lot of work and TBH I hated the overwhelming smell so until today I'm not the biggest fan of Tamales! But my mother loves them so...
Then we have a dinner in my house, just with my family and next day we used to go to Church then to my paternal grandmother's house. My father's family was BIG so it was crazy with all those little kids everywhere and all of them with new toys! I remember the Bunuelos there but I think she cooked them in New Year.
Nowadays, it's just my close family. We visit some family members, tho.