I feel very excited about Christmas this year. I think having little children has got a lot to do with it- they bring back the magic of Santa, get so excited about decorating the Christmas tree and they love to listen to the Christmas story.
When I was growing up we had a few family traditions, which were linked to Polish country traditions-like celebrating St. Nicolas Day on the 6th of December; My parents would leave a big bag of presents at the end of my bed at night…and I would wake up (on the 6th of Dec.) to rustling gift wraps! I loved that excitement and the magical feeling “Santa was here!!”. In Poland Father Christmas brings most presents on the 6th of December, and then we would still have one or two little presents to open on the 24th of December, but depending on where your family came from, those presents would be brought by the Christmas star or angel…
Then, when I was older I realised my Dad never really liked Christmas. He likes movement; being outside, hiking, going for a walk, working. So his problem was, (and still is), the fact that we work hard all year round and then spend a lot of money on presents and the Christmas feast that would be over in one day, leaving us ill from over eating and unable to move for 3 days 😉. So at the moment I am learning from that- my take on this is that there is nothing wrong in turning Christmas into a whole season…( “to be jolly”) it definitely brightens some of the December’s wet and gloomy days. And I also want my little family to have lovely traditions to look forward to.
In fact last year I spent quite a long time trying to figure out how to introduce and combine both Polish and British Christmas traditions. The hard one was to figure out what to do about Polish Santa, who comes on the 6th of December and English Santa who visits on the 25th of December… that’s a big gap and I really wanted to keep both traditions for my children. As a result I decided that the boys will write a letter to Santa or (because they are too little to write at the moment) make a picture for Santa and leave it at the end of their beds in their Christmas stockings, in the evening of 5th December and Santa will pick it up at night and leave a few small gifts in its place, ready to be opened in the morning. Then, my kids can still have some Christmas presents to open on the 25th of December, without missing out on anything and without being overloaded with new stuff.
In Poland- the main event of Christmas is Christmas Eve meal called “wigilia”, which should begin when the first star appears on the sky (reference to the Bethlehem star) and there should be 12 dishes as a symbol of 12 months of the year or the 12 disciples (?). As one year we found out, it’s not the best idea to have a great big Polish meal a night before a great big English lunch and as we alternates Christmases and spend every other year in Poland, we decided to keep Wigilia in Poland and [big] Christmas lunch in England:)
Lastly, the new Christmas Eve tradition I want to start this year is to watch “The Snowman”- as a family, with cups of warm cacao and Christmas biscuits, in the evening before bed and I am really looking forward to that.
What are your Christmas traditions?