Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mama Rika's Family Christmas Traditions

Family traditions are like post-it notes. You can stick them around everywhere to remind you of important things. Traditions act like cement. They may take a little while to get set up, but once done, they last for a really long time. Put footprints in the tradition cement before it gets really hard and save some cherished memories.

I love Christmas time!! I grew up with Christmases steeped in rich traditions and have incorporated a lot of it into my own home. Here are my sis and I by our traditional Julboken. (I'm the baby--aren't I cute?!)
Christmas baking starts early because we have to be ready for Advent! Each Sunday for the 4 Sundays before Christmas, we sit around the kitchen table with our 4 candle centerpiece. On the first Sunday we light one candle, the next week it’s two and so on until all four are burning on the final Sunday.
We dim the lights and dip tasty cookies in warm cinnamon milk. As the weeks get closer to Christmas, our Advent celebrations include more and more delicious treats. Everyone gets to have a sampling of each kind. By Christmas, we have pepparkakor (Swedish ginger thins), sarkakor (“wound cookies” otherwise known as jam thumbprints), bullar (Swedish cinnamon & cardamom rolls), knack (a carmel-like treat), rulltarta (jelly roll), Luciakatter (saffron rolls), mint flavored white covered pretzels, shortbread cookies, and more. If you ask nicely, I may be inclined to share a few recipes later. {I’ll probably share them anyway, but it would still be fun for you to ask—hint, hint—leave me a comment!}

To complement this cozy scene, we also have Dad read us a story and scripture from our wonderful count-down-to-Christmas book. I'll be letting everyone join us for this wonderful tradition. Starting December 1st, I'll post a Christmas story, scripture and song that you can share with your family each day until Christmas. Subscribe or "follow me" to start this tradition in your family this year!

During the Christmas season, we always overload on Christmas songs. We break out all of our CD’s and cassette tapes, giving each a turn to be heard. We tune in to Christmas songs on the radio. This year we are looking forward to programming our own Christmas channel on Pandora. {Ever heard of it? It’s pretty cool} Listening to the Messiah and the Nutcracker are musts, as is Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas album.

We nearly always put up our tree on the Monday after Thanksgiving for Family Home Evening. This is always an interesting event. Usually we don’t remember that it takes forever to get the branches all set up on the tree. We always must search for the bulb that loosened or died making the whole string of lights defunct. But, when it is all done, we turn out all the lights and sit and watch what a peaceful and marvelous work our efforts created.

Each year we have two Christmases. One Swedish style, one American style. We throw a big Swedish Christmas party and the older children invite several friends. It is a challenge to cram everyone in, but we push couches and other items to the edges of the rooms and set up lots of tables. We feed everyone a Swedish smorgasbord filled with meatballs, boiled potatoes, lingonberries, Kaviar, knackebrod (thanks IKEA), various cheeses, Swedish cukes, red cabba ge, “pigs feet” (they just look like that), and more. Once we have everyone completely stuffed, all the kids go play unique party games.

Tomten (Swedish Santa) comes in the middle of the games and distributes a small present to each good child. We teach everyone a few Swedish words to say to Tomten. Dad is always out getting the newspaper when Tomten comes. Everyone offers condolences to Dad for having missed Tomten.

Next, it is back to food! While the kids play more games, Mom sets out a myriad of Swedish goodies for all to enjoy with any remaining giggle punch. (Did I mention giggle punch yet? It is tradition too! Just mix Cran-Raspberry juice with Sprite until you have achieved desired result.)

Then it is back to games until the last straggler decides it is time to go home! Whew!

Christmas Eve we read the Christmas story from Luke 2. Then the kids get to open one present before bed.

Christmas morning finds each of us opening our stockings in age order, youngest to oldest. Then, we are off to breakfast of Swedish frukt soppa (fruit soup) and bullar. The kids will usually polish off their little box of “fun” (as in kinds I never buy) cold cereal as well. Dad will eat his bi-annual Lucky Charms. (Yes, I let him have it for his birthday too.)

After the nativity play, presents are sorted out and we open them one by one because we want to see what everyone got. It takes forever, but we like it.

Then we’ll usually hang out with any available relatives for a late afternoon Christmas dinner. It is always a good idea to assign Aunt Penny to volunteer to make cheesecake or some other yummy treat. We enjoy all the traditional American fair--pumpkin pie, turkey, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, etc.

Throughout Christmas day, we’ll play games, read new books and just enjoy being together.

Sigh. Don’t you just love Christmas?

12weeksbutton

21 comments:

Mom of 5 Boys said...

Wow! Your Christmas traditions sound just like mine! How did that happen?

Except we don't do warm cinnamon milk--recipe please. :)

CompleteLee Blogger said...

Wow! Small world, eh? {Silly goose!}

Golfndude said...

You forgot to mention that I NEVER sleep on Christmas eve because I'm too excited for Santa Claus to come and bring me my presents! I love Christmas.

graywolf2736 said...

Really interesting. We celebrate 2 Christmases as well, a German one and American one. The German tradition also has Advent and Santa actually comes on the 7th of December but we don't do that usually. It would interfere with my daughters birthday and I would rather let her have her day. We do celebrate the 24th (German Christmas) with my mom and the 25th at home with our own family.

Jen said...

I can't wait to start my cookie baking! Looks like a lot of fun in your house!!

Jen
http://www.100DaystoChristmas.com

Trish said...

That's cool to have the two Christmas celebrations.

Shasta said...

I love the picture of you as a child, I should dig some of mine out and scan them!

Also, I hate milk but warm cinnamon milk sounds REALLY good!

CompleteLee Blogger said...

I just got done visiting a bunch of other Christmas tradition posts. It reminded me of more things we do for family traditions! Oh well, my post was long enough already! :)

3 Kids and Us said...

The giggle punch sounds good! You might want to splash in a tad of vodka for some real giggles though. lol

CompleteLee Blogger said...

I'll pass on adding vodka, but the comment made me giggle. :)

Stephanie said...

Wow! I love the treats you make. Can I come to your house for Christmas?

CompleteLee Blogger said...

Sure, come on over. :)

Staci said...

What a busy holiday! I'm tired just thinking about it, but it sounds like ya'll have a lot of fun!

All the food sound so yummy too!

Tena said...

I loved your post! So sweet!
Happy Holidays

Momstart said...

looks like fun

Michelle@lifeinawhirlwind said...

My goodness you have a busy holiday. That's a lot of traditions. I love that you celebrate your Swedish heritage.

Tracye said...

Awww. I love this post!

You are busy!

Natalie said...

The cinnamon milk sounds yummy!

CompleteLee Blogger said...

Yeah, it is busy, but we find a little peace here and there too. And, the kids will totally remember all the things we did together when they grow up. {Which is happening far too quickly!!!!!!} :)

Rita @ My Precious Pennies said...

You were such a cute baby! I love that dress you got on! Adorable!

Cat said...

OH man!! Thank heavens its never to late to stumble upon a great post! My husband served his mission in Sweden and loves being immersed in the culture, but sometimes I fall short of that on the homefront. I cannot wait to tackle some of these recipes and incorporate more Swedish goodies into our holidays. Thank you so much!!