Friday, 10 December 2010

Developing Christmas Traditions

I've seen so many wonderful posts about Advent and Christmas recently and am beginning to realise that our family Christmas is suffering from a severe case of identity crisis. We are an international family. I am Scottish, hubby is Dutch, Rascal is a Kiwi and we live in New Zealand.

I grew up being visited by Father Christmas; with presents under the tree; a log fire burning; going to the Church of Scotland, having Grandma and an elderly Aunt visit and eating a traditional Christmas dinner of Turkey with all the trimmings.

Hubby would put his shoe out for Sinter Klaas on December 5th. Christmas Day itself was a family and religious day which consisted of a large family meal (no set menu, but several courses). This meal could be prepared by his mum or be had at a restaurant. I think that Christmas presents are a fairly new addition to the family and that these originated when his English brother-in-law joined the family.

When we were first married, hubby and I had fun playing with the different traditions. I would put my shoe out for Sint and hubby put out a stocking for Santa. One year we would prepare a Dutch style Christmas meal, the next year we would have Turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas Cake and Christmas pudding. Since moving to New Zealand we have tended to have a Christmas Barbecue with close friends, but they are expecting their first child in January so are not able to travel to visit us and we can't go to them. I assume that in the future they will celebrate Christmas with their small family unit and we will with ours, although I would be really happy to share the festivities with them again.

Now that we have a family of our own, I feel that we should settle on a few Christmas traditions that are important to us and stick with them. I also think that these should reflect the society that we live in as well as our heritage. We need to recognise that we live in a country that we love and as such our traditions should not be a hundred per cent rooted in our past, but reflect our present and future. By that I DO NOT mean that our children will be visited by both Sinter Klaas and Santa (as my Dutch nieces and nephews are!) but I think that hubby and I need to sit down and work out what is important to us and what aspects of Christmas we want to incorporate into our celebrations.

This year I must admit that Rascal does not have an advent calendar.  This is for purely practical reasons though... just imagine we have to move our family Christmas celebrations due to a new arrival after rascal has counted down since the beginning of the month. It just wouldn't be fair!

I am planning to make an Advent calendar for next year. I am wondering if I can place an element in each pocket that represents a feature of the Christmas story (Shepherds, angels, 3 kings, stars etc) and use these to create a Christmas table or Christmas picture of some kind. The idea is still pretty raw at the moment, but it is growing on me all the time.

I am not really a fan of taking children for an annual photo with Santa and I like Christmas books to tell the Christmas story as opposed to the ones about mice being visited by Santa. I don't want to be up all night slaving over a hot stove preparing a turkey which is totally unseasonal. Unfortunately, our extended families are on the other side of the world, so our traditions have to be for our small family unit (and possibly incorporate close friends).

PLEASE HELP all you Kiwis out there... What do you do on Christmas Day? What do you eat? What makes Christmas special for your family?


  1. Personally I find many kiwis don't have a very fixed approach to Christmas. We can be a pretty casual bunch at the best of times. Our family always ALL contribute to food so even if you are hosting it isn't a big job. As for traditions I love a Christmas Eve service and some churches do an early evening one, carols in a local park are often held too. I make the boys a decoration every year, buy a 'real' Christmas book which they get on the 1st of Dec each year and I like to do baking for friends and try and include the boys. I have made a nativity advent but it isn't properly finished so hopefully it will be ready for next year! However you celebrate it may it be FULL of love, joy and peace because to me that's what it is really about - God's gift of love to us all. x

  2. Looking forward to what suggestions you get here as it's something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately. We are in a similar boat...although the Scottish and English traditions are fairly similar...and looking for different ways to celebrate the festive season that embrace our heritage and this lovely country we've chosen to live in.

  3. As a family we have just sat down to talk about family traditions, We are going to see christmas lights on christmas eve, attend a christmas eve service, and put out food for santa and the reindeer's. Last year in the morning we all hoped into our bed and opened stockigns together - think we will do that again. then we went to see if santa had been to visit and checked the reindeer ate there treats (we leave carrots and the dog / reindeer eats them and leaves a few carrot crumbs or half eaten carrots) we then open presents
    we are half dutch so as a treat we have poffertjes for breakfast with lots of seasonal fruit like blueberries, strawberries etc. I do like the idea of celebrating on the 5th and putting out a shoe as it is something different, but as you say it is a bit much and with a child having a birthday on the 14th it draws out the busy season. so we do the stockings.
    we also visit family or friends and just enjoy the day in the sun as a family and as always eat far too much.


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