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Old 12-13-2011, 09:26 AM   #1
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Default Seasons Greetings and how do you celebrate Christmas?

Seasons Greetings and how do you celebrate Christmas?

Since we do appear to have quite a nice cross-section of the worlds population on the forum, maybe you too fancy giving us a little insight into how Christmas is celebrated by you and your family.

Well, since I started the topic, I guess I should then make the first 'seasonal' post...

Us being some kind of mongrel family, we have adopted a multitude of celebrations over the past 25 years and more.

The German in us demands a real Christmas tree. No plastic rubbish in our house and living in an old Victorian place with incredibly high ceilings, it'll obviously be a huge one, at least 10'.

The mistletoe is a later addition, if I remember right, we picked that one up while in LA. Now, that really is a wonderful idea. A kiss under the mistletoe... and maybe more when the kids are off to bed... who knows.

Tinsel and bauble are a must and something that was funnily enough picked up in LA, where some German immigrants told us that it was tradition in Germany to hang a pickled gherkin into the tree (no German ever heard of this tradition, must be some kind or urban myth). So, I went out in LA an bought a glass gherkin which ever since has graced all our Christmas trees and at least gave every German that ever saw it one hell of a laugh. Also, if you were the one to find the gherkin in the tree, you were meant to get an extra present.


Christmas Eve
Presents are given late afternnon on Christmas Eve, rather then as is tradition in the UK, on Christmas Day. This is very much a close family thing, not party time at all. So, for those with children Father Christmas will then put in an appearance between 4-7pm. Coming into your house with a book full of notes about how everybody behaved during the past years, always remembering to bring his birch broom to smack the proper little bastards (no, this does not really happen at Christmas but for the youngest, the threat is real enough).

Dinner is very spares on Christmas Eve. Potato salad and Bockwurst (something like a short, thick Frankfurter) or cooked Kale with smoked pork on the bone cooked with it and spuds. Those, at least in the part of Germany where we came from, are the most popular two dishes served on Christmas Eve.

Then there is what German's call the 'bunte Teller' (roughly describes an painted metal dish on which fruit and sweets are laid out). No Christmas without one of those for every family member. Marzipan logs covered in dark chocolate, a variety of nuts, maybe an apple or two to pop in the oven later, some clementine's, marzipan potatoes (rolled marzipan dusted with strong, dark cacoa, hm, delicious), a chocolate Santa, that goes without saying and all other manner of sweets either in some kind of Christmassy shape or other. Anything unhealthy will do. LOL

Once the kids have settled down and dinner is over, some overindulgence in the sweet stuff and if you should be unlucky enough to have been born into a 'no TV' family as we were for years and years, you'd all sit down and play games. Anything that'll work in a group will do. Ludo, 9 men Morris or failing to find the board games, even things like 'I spy with my little eye' are a half decent way to pass the evening.

Christmas Day
The day usually starts off with the kids being told to keep the noise down. LOL. After all, this is a good day to have a lie in. Then back to normal. Breakfast, the kids will usually not partake, they've already had more sugary stuff then is good for them anyway, prepare the Christmas Joint (there doesn't seem to be much of a pattern as to what Germans traditionally eat anymore, Goose once upon a time was probably the most popular) and then, say about 2-3pm it's time for a stroll. Maybe visit the Grandparents, in fact, if you were lucky, you wouldn't have any cooking to do, since you have been invited anyway. Yet, everything is still very much a family affair.

Oh, did I mention, all shops shut on Christmas Eve and STAY CLOSED over Christmas and Boxing Day, not like in the UK, where after two month of hardcore shopping the shops stay shut on Christmas Day but Boxing Day, it turns into sheer hell with literally half the nation out and about buying more stuff they don't really need. For us, this has nothing to do with Christmas, this is just an excuse to use and abuse credit cards that should have run dry by now anyway, yet still they go out for more. I feel really sorry for those people that have to work then instead of spending the day with their family.

Dinner at the in-laws, now that's always been my nightmare. Can anybody explain to my why during this supposed season of love and solitude your mother-in-law ALWAYS has to do all her dirty washing? Good grief, Christmay Day at my mother-in-laws has always been my ultimate nightmare, though I have to admit, that food was always great but to be paid for with a massive earache.

Boxing Day
The exitement has died down a bit and things are a little more normal. A normal breakfast of rolls, boiled egg, jam and marmalade, maybe some cheese or ham and all family members at the table.

If you didn't do your own roast dinner the day before, you'd then get that prepared, go for a walk, talk, play games, maybe even use the sleigh, if you were lucky enough to have some snow, basically build up an appetite before you went home again.

Fo course, things have changed since our kids have left home, nearly 10 years ago. These days the games are more likely to be played on the X-Box and TV rules the lounge. Now that is something where I have always remained pretty firm on. NO TV on Christmas. Let's talk some more, you might be surprised what you get to hear. No , really.

And all this time the whole town/city is as tranquil as it gets. Hardly any cars, no shops open, no rush to do or buy anything. Wonderful. And surprisingly people in Germany do not starve to death on Boxing Day, evolution has trained them to be able to buy enough food for two whole days. Obviously something that failed to happen, at least in the UK.

And then?
First day after Christmas, things still stay pretty slow. There are few people going shopping, there is usually so much food left over from the past few days, not much need to buy anything. Apart from which, after tucking into all those chocolates over Christmas, most people start experiencing the twinges of guilt from their overindulgence. So, the next lot of Weigth Watchers are beginning to make plans for yet another diet. Well, keeps that company in business.

Right, I've probably forgotten to mention a lot of things, so if you are another 'Kraut', feel free to jog my memory and it would be nice if others could give us a little idea about what they do for Christmas.

And this year?
And since our kids moved out such a long time ago, we these days hardly get out of bed. Breakfast in bed, a glass of champagne or three, a few spliffs and lots of 'serious cuddling'. Sounds like a plan to me for this year.

So, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you.

Hoverfly and wife
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:49 PM   #2
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In my family being a conservative american melted conglomeration from numerous countries of origin, we decided to make our own traditions. We have six kids ranging between twins at age 12 and our youngest age 4. We have all month long assigned each child a "secret service santa" person that means they have to do service for this person without them knowing it. On Christmas eve the person who was served has to try and guess who was serving them and say how they were greatful for what they had done. We also try our best to reduce the stress of the season by watching a nightly themed show regarding the seasonal topics instead of the normal shows. We also work on a family choir and go caroling and deliver homemade candies and chocolate treats to family and friends. On Christmas eve we don't stress over a big dinner, we have a meal of finger food, fondues, and anything else that is easy and usually healthy as well: lots of meats, cheeses, and crackers many of which we prepared our selves days earlier. This is also what we continue to eat for days at it reduces stress and allows for more together time. We always read some from the scriptures as well. We have even been known to put on our own Christmas pagent for friends and family as there is enough in our family to play all the parts. Typically on Christmas morning we open presents and spend the day together playing games and just being together. For us unless someone comes to our house we just stay together ourslves. We spend new years as a big family gathering at one house or another taking turns each year.

There is more to it I am sure but that is a synopsis.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:46 PM   #3
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Your way of spending Christmas does sound very much like it had once been intended, Stoutman. It should be a time of reflection and to with your family, so that is very good indeed. Allthough I am not what you would consider a particularly religious person in the traditional sense but my God and I are best buddies, nevertheless. Please don't take this as an affront to your believes, this is not intended.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:14 PM   #4
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The topic of Christmas has without a doubt a deeply engrained religious context. However, our beliefs allow for the freedom of others to believe whatever and however they choose. I take no offense at all.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:17 PM   #5
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Oh and by the way, I enjoyed reading about your German customs. My maternal grandmother was full German. So I suppose that is my highest degree of anscestry.
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Old 12-14-2011, 08:03 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stoutman View Post
The topic of Christmas has without a doubt a deeply engrained religious context. However, our beliefs allow for the freedom of others to believe whatever and however they choose. I take no offense at all.
On that note... Yes, couldn't agree more about the religious context. In fact in Britain it has become pretty clear, as most likely has in other countries that Christianity was in the habbit of taking over existing religious sites and celebrations. Christmas for example in Britain is based on the day of the Winter solstice, a truly ancient Duids festival, which incidentally, is still widely celebated.

In Russia, one of my predecessors hailed from there in the mid 18th century, that's pretty much where Santa Clause had it's roots originally. All based on the ancient healers traditions of administering fly agaric (the mildly poisonous red and white variety Amanita Muscaria) mushrooms to reindeer, then collecting their urine and consuming it with a passion. It supposedly concentrates the halucinogenic properties of the active chemical principles leading the healers to experience vivid hallucinations. Not sure if drinking reindeer urine at Christmas would enhance my experience but each one to their own, I guess.

What I liked most about your post was the fact that you say
Quote:
our beliefs allow for the freedom of others to believe whatever and however they choose
. That is not the impression that comes across from the USA all too often. I am of course referring to the teachings of Billy Graham, just as an example, who tend to take a much stronger and more restricted view of religion.

Yes, live and let live, that's what I always say.
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Old 12-14-2011, 02:12 PM   #7
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One of the greatest gifts / challenges / or requirements that God gave us is the freedom and ability to choose. No one can or should be forced into anything. That is NOT the plan HE provided for us. However by choosing anything means that you are also choose the consequences of those actions whether we are aware of them or not.
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Last edited by mrsstoutman; 12-17-2011 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 12-14-2011, 04:31 PM   #8
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As an atheist now and Free Thinker I no longer attend church,enjoy fruitcakes,Port wine,Rumballs,Nuts,cheeseballs,Sees chocolates,mmmm!
Lets celebrate,lol
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Old 12-15-2011, 02:01 AM   #9
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I am atheist but my girlfriend and our son are christian.They celebrate Christmas and I go along with it for my son.We don't have a tree due to space,or lack of.We have a big lunch and dinner on Christmas but this year it will be a small late dinner.My girlfriend has to work Christmas.It really sux playing Santa without her.
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Old 12-15-2011, 12:33 PM   #10
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I couldn't agree more TD, working on Christmas that really sucks. There are not really that many jobs that I think really have to be on duty over Christmas. Yes, doctors, firefighters and other absolutely vital services they need to be maintained but supermarkets, warehouses and such? Somehow I just don't think so. And while we are unlikely to be successful battling the retail industry, the very least they could do is make sure that those with children are off for Christmas.
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