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Re: Merry Christmas!

by fiammybe on 2022/12/29 14:52:12

We're a bit light on tradition in our family, compared to you We've moved across the country (150 km, which is almost the other side of the country here in Belgium) from our family, so it takes some organising to keep everybody happy, and make sure we have some time for ourselves as well. Schools have Christmas holidays for 2 weeks each year, so we have to organise that period for the kids as well, in combination with our limited number of vacation days.

Normally, we go to my parents for Christmas Eve, and there we open all the gifts under the christmas tree we have for each other. You won't be surprised when I say that the vast majority is for the girls We're flexible in the timing.

Because we arrived around noon on christmas eve this year, we opened the presents then, taking into account we would leave the country 2 days later. That way, the girls had as much time to play with their newly received toys as possible.

These last few years, my parents-in-law have chosen to spend the Christmas and new year period in their appartment in La Caleta, on the gorgeous sunny island of Tenerife, and they invite us to come over for a holiday and see the fireworks. These last few years we were lucky that christmas came at the very beginning of the holidays, so we could spend almost 2 weeks there. I dare almost say this has instantly become a new family tradition. And believe it or not : the first day after we get here, we go to get a haircut, every time

Because we are always guests somewhere else, we try to suggest food that is easy to prepare, and try to help as much in the organising and the preparation the day itself. This year, on Christmas day, the journey was more important than the destination :  grandpa making pizza from scratch with his granddaughters. Priceless to see the amount of fun they had, and the result was very tasty as well.

Climate wise, it's been since my teens that I can remember a white christmas. The last time we had really multiple days of snow was more than 10 years ago. This year, it even looks like we will break the record of the highest temperature ever in Belgium on the last day of the year : 16° Celcius - a nice spring day.

The first saturday of the year, the Mayor of Mechelen invites all his citizens to come together on the market plaza in the center of town, and have free drinks and free snacks to celebrate the new year. You can imagine it's a fun way to greet people also living in Mechelen you see only a few times a year, and it's very popular.

Re: Merry Christmas!

by skenow on 2022/12/26 10:57:20

Christmas, for us, comes at the darkest and coldest time of year, and we try to bring light and warmth through a variety of activities. A lot of our traditions are family traditions from several families and generations. While we live in the US, we trace our heritage to Europe and Scandinavia, melding a lot of old cultures with new creativity.

For us, Christmas starts on with Christmas Eve on December 24 (after dark) and extends to January 6 (Epiphany). We do decorate (for light and warmth) - I usually get a fresh cut evergreen and bring it in a couple of weeks before Christmas Eve. It stays up until January 6.

We definitely gather as many as we can - travel conditions and health being the main separators. Attending Christmas Eve church service is also part of my tradition. This year, weather kept us at home.

Food - just lots of it. The items that get the most attention are the cookies (Kekse, koekjes, småkakor, biscuits). There are some recipes that are difficult to reproduce the way we remember them. Even though they're German (springerle), they're not that common among all people of German ancestry. My great-aunt's recipe is very descriptive, just not a lot of details. "Start early in the morning ... Before noon ... After dinner ...". 1 of the ingredients is a bit difficult to find in the US (baking ammonia), so I don't attempt them often.

The children get gifts, the adults exchange gifts - either by drawing a name beforehand, or with a random drawing the day we gather. We also send cards and letters to friends and family.

Music is also an integral part of Christmas - music, hymns, carols, anthems, oratorios, and cantatas specifically for this season. I've got more playlists, music CDs, and albums for Christmas than any other genre.

Part of my heritage is Dutch - the surnames are de Bruyn and Kops, as well as the combined de Bruyn Kops. Plus, there's some Bohemian/Czech (Smetana) in my blood. I would love to hear your traditions for this time of year!

Re: Merry Christmas!

by skenow on 2022/12/26 9:30:11

Thank you, David - Merry Christmas to you, too!

We had some dangerous weather (even for us in Minnesota) leading up to Christmas - snow, lots of it (8"/20cm in the last storm). Cold lots of it (down to -12F/-24C). Then - wind, lots of it (30-40mph/48 - 64kph). We still managed to gather over the weekend and celebrate for the holiday. And we have a few gatherings to reschedule.

It's warming up over the next few days and the view from our window is beautiful


Merry Christmas!

by fiammybe on 2022/12/24 8:27:08

I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas!

Europe is profiting from quite warm temperatures for the time of year. It's 10 degrees centigrade, which is 20 more than a week ago. But I get the news that the holiday period in the USA is not starting easily with snow storms and arctic temperatures foreseen in the near future. And I don't know how things are going in Asia on that account.

I hope everyone gets to have lots of quality time with loved ones, because that is what this period stands for, no matter your religion or beliefs.

And after that: countdown to the new year, which will be full of surprises as always.

How do you plan to spend this period? I'm curious into what other cultures and countries do around the turn of the year.