Saturday, December 20, 2008

Making Family Traditions

I thought I'd share our Holiday Traditions with you.

Most of our families traditions come from many beliefs and customs combined into one stretch of 12 winter fun days for us :) DD calls it the "12 days of winter".

We have been Buddhist for over 8 years now, and being Scottish and of a Celtic decent, it was fun for us to sit down and do a totally different holiday season than what most of the world around us does.We wanted to still have fun, but for it to be more suited to our beleifs and revolve it all around nature and the season and the things that are important to us.

We started to write out our own traditions we wanted to incorporate when we were pregnant with our DD and each year we have followed it and added a few other little things to it)

We start off with Bodhi day which is December 8th ( the day observed as when Buddha achieved enlightenment), and then spend the rest of December from that day on cleaning the house. We don't "spring" clean, we do the deep clean in December and finish any unfinished business ( emotionally, financially etc,) and try to be done before the 1st of January to start the year off fresh with no looking back. It's a Buddhist custom.

We have a norfolk island pine tree that we start to decorate on the 8th and add small decorations to daily until we get to Midwinter's eve.(the day before the first day of winter/Solstice.)

On Solstice eve the kids get to open one gift from old man winter in preperation for the longest darkest night of the year.It is usually new PJ's and a small toy.THe PJ's is a tradition my mom did with us on Christmas eve growing up.

Then we are ready after most of the clenaing up etc for our Midwinter day celebration and family dinner.

Our Midwinter celebration ( the solstice) is a Celtic holiday and we celebrate each year. It is our big holiday ( we don't observe Christmas /Santa besides attending a family dinner with the rest of our extended family who do and give one small stocking and a "Santa present" on the 25th morning. the kids know they come from us. But they still enjoy the fun of playing Santa and trying to stay awake and never managing to, to see us hang the stocking on their bedposts.

The Midwinter eve feast is always a candle light dinner of garlic and basil rubbed roast beef and gravy, Stuffing stuffed croissant sacks and potatoes and cheese perogies with sour cream and bacon bits, broccoli and cauliflower and carrots ( winter medley frozen veggies) with homemade cheese sauce, and a little sweet potatoes with honey ( mashed), brussel sprouts, and a sparkling drink in wine glassses ( non alcoholic).

Many dessert items are made over the course of a few days to choose from and to have things to offer company should they pop in. the recipes are mostly traditions from DH's family, and I usually make a lemon merange pie, which my mother used to make every year.

That day before sundown we open our the doors and throw back the curtains and let the sun shine in all day and at sun down we put the blinking lights on our living tree to light the longest night. It is decorated with crochet snowflakes and hand made icicles made of recycled pop bottles and blue and silver garland, we sometimes sing "Oh Winter tree" ( our variation on oh Christmas tree). We then leave the tree light until the end of our 12 days of winter on new years day.

Midwinter's day marks the first day of our 12 day Celebration of Winter that we start with a feast and end with a feast on new years day . The kids receive a small gift each day until new years day, they open them after dinner usually.I love that the kids are just as excited over new socks and underwear as they are toys.

The first day of winter and technically the day in which the sun is up for longer then yesterday and marks the beginning of the days shortening, we go for a walk at sundown and watch the sun and we picks some pine cones and twigs and inter foliage on our walk for our nature table.

Every day of the 12 has a special event that we pick to do. One day will be Animal day when we will make popcorn and peanut butter balls for the neighborhood critters ( and go for a walk and hang them from the trees.

Other days we make bread and surprise a neighbor with a steaming hot loaf of bread for them to share with their family. AS the kids get older we may pick certain days to help a shelter. On boxing day we box up all our dry and canned goods we won't use and donate them to the foodbank or a halfway house. Make an art or craft for our scrap book about the year we had.Be kind to a stranger, be kind to a friend etc.

We equate the winter solstice with wisdom, so we sit and talk about our year gone past and what we have learned and what we want to change and what we want to keep the same ( we don't do resolutions for new years we make vows of change and keep them written in a family journal that we go back and look at the next year)

On new years eve we rent movies or play games with family or friends and just before midnight I go outside in the quiet night and ring a bell 108 times. it is a Buddhist tradition that rids of the 108 "sins" man can be afflicted by. I then place a bowl of fruit and pine bows at the door of our home (outside) to bless the house with good karma and greet neighbors or call friends and family to tell them how I am thankful for them in our lives and what I hope will continue in our relationship in the next year.

New years day we cook a huge turkey dinner and prepare meals for the upcoming weeks ( turkey soups, sandwiches casseroles etc)

Then we settle in for a quiet Jan & Feb and veg out at home a lot between skating, sledding and skiing.

1 comment:

David said...

Holiday traditions can be so fun. Clearly yours are fairly unique.