Oooh how I love all things “Tradition”. As a bilingual family or more to the point bi-cultural family, my own family traditions take on extra significance. Usually people “do what is happening around them”.. Chocolate Easter bunnies at Easter, Advent calendars on the 1st Dec. Presents by Santa on the 25th. Nothing wrong with that (at all!). But I like to have things that we do the same together every year. Where when you see/ hear or smell something to do with that tradition you instantly think “ooooh Christmas at home with my family). So I am sharing our Advent Ideas & Traditions with you. Maybe you already do some of them, maybe you have new ones. You can link your posts at the end!
And one big part of that is our Austrian Christmas Cookies! YAY. Recipes below.
So here is what we like to do:
1) We like to have an advent calendar, that the children share together and that is filled with notes, the odd small toy or treat. I try and make the advent calendar not “just” chocolate, but something we can do together. I you need ideas check out the amazing Virtual Advent Calendar that 24 bloggers contributed towards last year. Remember though to keep it simple and not stressful and think ahead whether the day falls on a Sunday or a busy school and party day (i.e. whether you have enough time to do what you would like to do – for obvious busy days I add a quick cookie, for quiet days, we choose a family board game or a craft).
Advent Wreath or Candles
2) I try and focus on the meaning of the annual celebration – i.e. why do we have advent and what are the traditional days to be observed. For me these are the 4 Advent Sundays leading up to Christmas. When is Advent Sunday this year? Basically it varies. If you count back from the 25th Dec. Which means sometimes the first of Advent falls into November. In 2012 it is the 2nd December. We have an Advent Wreath or 4 Church Candles. I can’t always get hold of a wreath and yes, I know that I should make one… but there are so many other things to make, that I don’t mind it too much if we have 4 nice candles with pine cones and dried orange slices lined up on the mantle piece.
Then on the 1st Advent, we assemble. We light the candle. We listen to Christmas songs and we start munching on the first set of Christmas cookies! If there is time a board game is played too! On the 2nd of Advent, we repeat the process, but light 2 candles – the 1st one and a new one and so one. This means the 1st candle will be a little smaller as the rest at Christmas and has that special “advent feel”.
3) Here is the best bit. And there is no better way than appeal to traditions than through the sense of smell and taste. In Austria it is tradition to bake 8 or different Christmas cookies in the run up to and during Advent. I like to make up small bags full of different cookies and give them as gifts to neighbours, friends and family!
More traditional Austrian Recipes to come over the coming weeks (i.e. as we bake them!!!).
St Nikolaus Tag – 6th December
4) A very Germanic Tradition, is St Nikolaus Day on the 6th December. St Nikolaus was said to be a very kind and caring bishop. There were a number of stories about what made him saintly, but in essence he was kind and generous to the children in need and who would come and bring them something to eat or a gold coin during the cold winter months. Families vary, but in essence you put a boot in front of your door on the eve of the 6th December and St Nikolaus comes during the night and brings satsusmas, nuts and chocolate gold coins. In some countries there is also a “Black Peter” or a “Krampus” (a little devil) with a switch. And if you have been naughty they will spank your bottom. We haven’t introduce this element to our traditions, though of course some days I am tempted too!!!!
5) And although no specific book is part of our Advent Traditions, I do like to get out all the Christmas books we have and start reading magical winter stories. One of my favourite to yet read to the kids is Letters from Father Christmas (read the review here).
I hope you are have been inspired to create your own family traditions. They don’t have to include any of the above, but they just have to be your own!
This is part of the Advent Ideas Blog hop. Come and join in the fun and share YOUR Advent Ideas & Traditions? What do you like doing?