My husband and I have been married for four years, but this will be our first Christmas as parents. While our child is too young to have any idea what’s going on, it’s a great time to start thinking about the holiday traditions we want to create for our family. Here are a few old and new traditions we’re hoping to incorporate into our seasonal celebrations.
Old Christmas Traditions
Candles on the Christmas Tree
My father’s family has a strong German heritage which translates into some slightly more old fashioned Christmas traditions. One of my favorite memories from our Christmases was lighting the candles on the Christmas tree. Before electricity, trees were lit by small candles secured to the branches of the tree with clamps. While it sounds like a fire hazard, this tradition made lighting the tree into a special event.
Every night during the twelve days of Christmas, we’d sit around the tree after dinner and would help our dad light the candles one by one. Of course once the candles are lit, you couldn’t just walk away, so we’d spend an hour or so reading or just sitting and watching the lights flicker. When it was time to go to bed, we’d take turns as the official candle snuffer, while everyone else guessed which candle would be the last to go out.
I’ve always been a fan of homey Christmas Trees with mismatched ornaments collected throughout a lifetime. The effect is never as polished or showy as the color themed trees with ribbons woven through the branches and big shiny balls. But these trees represent beloved family memories and provide more of an opportunity for kids to participate in decorating for Christmas. This year I plan to make a “First Christmas” ornament celebrating my son’s birth. I found a great tutorial from Thrifty Crafty Girl that incorporates mementos from your child’s birth.
New Christmas Traditions
Winterfest in Downtown Raleigh
I’ve always loved attending local holiday events, whether they’re tree lightings, winter markets, or meet and greets with Santa. We’re new to the area, so I’ve started looking for events we can attend in the Triangle Region. I’m particularly excited to check out Downtown Raleigh’s Winterfest and hope this event becomes a new tradition for our family.
Throughout the month of December, Downtown Raleigh hosts a series of holiday events, but the big Winterfest celebration will take place on Saturday, December 3rd from noon to 8:00pm. The event will feature a ferris wheel, carousel, Gingerbread House contest, Santa’s Village, and live music. At 7:15pm the mayor will light the Christmas tree, a tradition I’ve enjoyed as I’ve moved from city to city. I still get a little surge of holiday excitement and cheer when I see a tree light up. For more information about Winterfest, visit Downtown Raleigh’s website here.
Black Nativity at the Justice Theater Project
I grew up participating in my church’s annual nativity play. Every year it was the same comforting story complete with adorable kindergarten angels and all my favorite and familiar carols. Who doesn’t love belting “Gloria” at the top of their lungs?
This year, I want to broaden my experiences by attending Black Nativity, a retelling of the classic nativity story written by Langston Hughes. The cast is entirely black and the traditional Christmas carols we’re so familiar with are sung in gospel style. I want to make sure my children are exposed to a wide variety of perspectives, and this play is a great way to experience a different interpretation of the same narrative.
The production is showing December 17-19 at NC State’s Stewart Theatre in Raleigh. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit the Justice Theater Project’s website here.
PJs on Christmas Eve
Opening one gift on Christmas Eve is a common tradition. My good friend Anna’s family does this but they always give each other the same gift: new pjs to wear on Christmas morning. PJs are so cute on kids and something I never buy for myself. I usually sleep in stained sweatpants and a man’s undershirt. My husband and I are excited to start this tradition ourselves this year. I’m having a hard time deciding what PJs to get our 4 month old baby, there are so many cute options! Dying over this adorable Santa set.
What are your special Christmas traditions? Would you ever try candles on your tree?