Christmas Traditions

Michlynn Churchwell, editor

Do you like traditions? I know I do. We have many traditions and many of them take place on Christmas Eve for my family and I. We have continued this tradition for four years straight, and it’s still going strong.

From hand-carved wooden nutcrackers to scrumptious stollen, there are many Christmas traditions which have been around for centuries. But what is the meaning behind them all? These traditions include a variety of customs, rituals, religious practices, and folklore associated with the celebration on Christmas. One of their famous traditions receives their stocking on Saint Nicholas day, and they are opened the next day on the 7th of December. This is known as the feast of saint Nicholas, this happens in many countries no matter the religious beliefs there. They leave the stocking outside of their door for Old Saint Nicholas, then he fills them with small toys, oranges, or chocolate coins. This is a lovely tradition that every kid would enjoy.

Did you know that in Germany they decorate the tree last? They like to save the tree for last to decorate, it makes it more fun for them. they also place an advent wreath on the table. This consists of four candles, in a bed of pine cones, berries, dried flowers, and a variety of festive ornaments. Most households will bring out the wreath December first, and they light the candle each Sunday throughout the month. Germany has many traditions but here are a few more of them. Krampus Night, Adventskalender, and Christmas celebrated on Christmas Eve are a few of the traditions they celebrate every year. Krampus Night occurs the night before the Feast of Saint Nicholas. This is a night when people dress up as the devil and walk through the streets, Krampus is a horned figure who scares children if they misbehave. Adventskalender (advent calendars) are sold in most countries, but the tradition originated from Germany. This was first used by German Lutherans in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many families marked the days leading up to Christmas by burning a candle or marking the walls with chalk. The tradition changed over time with shops now selling chocolate advent calendars and sustainable fill-your-own calendars. They celebrate on Christmas Eve.

One of our main traditions is waking up on Christmas Eve to open the presents from my mom and my immediate family. My mom says “The best part about opening presents with the immediate family, is that we don’t have to worry about everyone else until Christmas Day.” The immediate family consists of my mom, my brother, and I. We put up the Christmas tree every year on Thanksgiving, so it’ll be up throughout the holidays on display. Every year we drink root beer floats and we watch The Christmas Chronicles  while wearing our Christmas pajamas. Then towards the end of the day we eat a wonderful supper my grandma makes every year which includes turkey and noodles, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, pies, and many more. After supper we open our presents (while still wearing our pj’s), and we open all other presents my grandmother bought for us.

Heiliger Abend (Christmas Eve) is a jam-packed day of celebrations for Germans. Households will spend the day decorating the tree, preparing food for the family, and sprucing up the home for the holidays. As soon as it gets dark the families will gather around the tree. According to tradition, the Christkind (Christ child) delivers the presents when the children are waiting outside the room. A bell is then rung for children to step inside where the family will then sing carols before the bescherung (opening of gifts) begins. Some families go to church afterwards, and some families overindulge in delicious foods after the presents are received. 

After we open presents on Christmas Eve, we go to sleep at my aunt’s house wearing different matching pajamas to wake up on Christmas morning. My aunt says “We do this to bring us closer together as a family.” Christmas day we open the gifts from Santa first, and then we open presents from my aunt and uncle. During the day we get all of our gifts out and we either use them or put them all up out of the way. We all get our own separate pile from each other, and there are nine of us kids that get presents. We get a decent amount spent on each of us; we don’t go by the amount of presents we get, but instead we go by the price of what was bought for us. We also have a big lunch at about noon or one, and that usually consists of finger foods like chicken tenders, fries, and other things in that “food group.” That concludes our Christmas traditions, and they will probably continue for the rest of our lives.