Gosh, I love traditions. I’m fascinated by the history of traditions, how they start and are passed down. I love to learn about the traditions of different cultures and families. I’m not sure what it is about traditions…I guess I love how they connect us to the people we share them with and even people we’ve never met. Of course Christmas is a season rich with traditions both big and small. Traditional foods and recipes, activities and special gatherings. I love to learn about how other families and cultures celebrate the season, so I thought it would be fun to share my top 5 favorite Christmas traditions.
1. Blessing Money. My favorite family tradition is one that started in my family probably 10 years ago. Like any good tradition it has evolved quite a bit since it first started, and I don’t think my parents had any intention of creating a tradition. Each year at Thanksgiving my parents give each of my siblings and I “Christmas cash” to use to bless someone else. The only rule is that you have to share how you used the money when we gather for Christmas. There have been so many amazing stories shared through the years, and often a box of tissues that has to be passed around. It’s such a beautiful way to bring the true meaning of Christmas alive in our celebration.
2. Birthday Party for Jesus. I started doing this with my kids when they were little to try to help them understand why we celebrate Christmas. I remember a fellow teacher sharing that her favorite tradition was baking a birthday cake for Jesus with her kids, and I thought it was such a sweet way to put the focus back on Jesus. The first year we did this we made cupcakes for Jesus to take to the post Christmas Eve Mass celebration. We decorated them with sprinkles and my oldest asked, “do you think Jesus likes sprinkles?” Which gave us all a little laugh. One year I grabbed donuts since that is our traditional birthday breakfast, other years we’ve baked something, but we always sing, happy birthday.
3. Blessing and toasting the Christmas tree. Decorating the tree is always an exciting event for my kids. When the tree is decorated we like to bless the tree. My kids enjoy taking turns sprinkling it with holy water as we pray and sing O Christmas Tree. Then we pop the sparkling grape juice and make a toast. I have used a blessing from Catholic Household Blessing and Prayers for the last couple of years. It’s a great resource to have around, full of blessings for all occasions. If you don’t have it, feel free to download my prayer card with the blessing below.
4. Christmas Eve Mass. I love the Christmas Eve liturgy. I love the extra excitement, and how it is dark outside and the church is usually beautifully decorated. Growing up we all went to Christmas Eve Mass at my Aunt’s convent and then joined the community for a party afterwards. It was such a memorable way to kick off the Christmas season. Now we attend Christmas Eve Mass in our own parish.
5. Christmas Pie. There is something really special about a recipe that only comes out once or twice a year. For me that’s my Grandma’s Christmas Pie. It’s not really a pie, but more like a cheesecake, with a graham cracker crust and soft, creamy mild and topped with cherry pie filling. My Grandma made it every Christmas that I can remember, and now my Mom carries on the tradition. I’m told that the recipe came from my Great Grandmother Letourneau, and my Mom has memories of having it as a little girl. I just love the idea that I’m enjoying a recipe that my Great Grandmother used to serve. I think recipes passed down are such an amazing way that we are connected to family members from the past, even ones that we never had an opportunity to meet. I am sure when my Great Grandmother began serving this special holiday dessert she had no idea many years later her grandchildren and great grandchildren would still be carrying on the tradition. If your looking for a go-to Christmas dessert check out the recipe for our family favorite below!