Glad Jul! Christmas the Swedish Way?

Glad

~What if, this year you decided to Christmas a bit different to how you did it last year or the year before that, or even ten years before that? What if this year you decided to create the Christmas of your dreams and said stuff that for a game of soldiers to all the usual traditions, rituals and obligations that Christmas usually means in your house. Imagine it if you can. Imagine Christmas the way you want it to be. Could you make it happen? Would you even dare?

Of course you wouldn't. Not least because Christmas causes enough family argument without us deciding to put a total spanner in the works by opting out of it all together. We expect certain things from this family holiday, and we, as families are often strangely rigid (supersticious?) about making even the teeniest chnages to our rituals. Hell, even I am not immune: the year my Dad decided he wasn't going to be official wrapping paper collector while the rest of us unwrapped our presents, I nearly came to blows with him. He always does it, and there is a teeny part of me who will forever be a little girl and thus wants her Daddy to go on doing the things I expect him to for ever more... 

But just because we want (or have to) go on observing our own particular family traditions doesn't  mean that we cannot begin to create a few little traditions of our own. Inspiration, where Christmas is concerned, can be hard to find because sadly it is a case of same old, same old, but if we look to the way other countries celebrate Christmas we can find a whole host of teeny rituals that could sit scrumptiously alongside our own traditions and become a part of Christmas for years to come...

* Celebrate La Pere Noel like the French do: mark the feast day of St Nicolas by giving your children a teeny little treat or two in their stockings on December 6th. Or do it the German way and get them to leave their shoes on the doorstep on the evening of the 5th of December and fill them with sweets and a teeny gift before morning falls...

* Give children their smaller gifts on the morning of christmas eve and save their special gifts for Christmas day as they do in France...

* Make Christmas all about the children, and New Year all about the adults by saving your presents to your partner for midnight on the start of the New Year, the way they do in France...

*In Provence, early in Advent, the children of the house are sent out to collect twigs, berries, bracken and moss on which to lay the traditional manger so familiar to French homes. Make this tradition your own by sending the kids out and using what they find to create your own little altar to the season...

* Have a seasonal cleaning day in the week between Christmas and New Year the way the Chinese do: the whole family helps to clean the house and sweep away ill fortune and make way for in-coming good luck...

*In Denmark the better part of a day is spent with the whole family together sitting down to make a new set of christmas Decorations for the tree, in the week before christmas...

*Create a  Knusperhous (nibble house)- a traditional gingerbread house made the German way and give it pride of place in your kitchen...

* In Holland, Christmas Eve is celebrated by the giving of "surprises" at the dinner table- tiny little presents, sometimes silly, sometimes fun, wrapped in plain paper and accompanied by a verse from their secret santa...

* In Poland, places are set for all family members, at the Christmas table: even those who could not attend, and a tiny piece of straw is laid under the tablecloth as a reminder of the manger..

* In Sweden, Christmas begins on December 14th, with Saint Lucias Day: have your children light candles and serve coffee and cakes in celebration. Then the following day, preparations for Christmas should begin with a thorough cleaning of the house and the commencement of traditional baking... 

* In Greece the most common Christma decoration is a shallow wooden bowl with  a piece of wire suspended across the rim: from this a piece of basil is wrapped around a cross and daily the Mother of the house will keep the basil fresh by dipping it in the bowl and using it to sprinkle water in every room of the house to keep bad spirits away...

* Brazillians traditionally use fresh flowers to decorate their houses and this I think is a scrumptious way of off setting the heaviness of christmas decorations: and shopping  and displaying the flowers could become a calm and peaceful ritual on the day before Christmas Eve...

So pick and choose your rituals, and find a way of making them your own: nothing is more reassuring than the certainty of tradition and children most of all treasure those moments.

Even grown up children, aged thirty four and a half.

*Originally posted by me in The Vintage Housekeepers Circle.*

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