It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And with that, comes fun, festive activities and spending time with loved ones. The holiday season is the perfect time to create new memories and reminisce on the old. From special foods and desserts to family and cultural customs, here are just a few of our favorite holiday traditions!
Every year we trek down to the Christkindlmarket in Chicago to shop for unusual trinkets like ornaments, handmade knitted wearables and give deserving stuffed animals their fur-ever homes.
In addition, it is our mission to collect that year’s keepsake mug, which many times is designed to look like a little boot or snowman. The plus is that we get to enjoy a German wine or hot chocolate while adding to our collection! If you have never been, I highly recommend going shoulder to shoulder with market visitors from all over the globe who are all in the Christmas spirit, friendly and willing to clang a glass to cheers the holiday season.
Growing up, there was a tradition within my family that my uncle perpetrated, and that I am very thankful has come to an end! In an attempt to keep me from coming downstairs during the timeframe that my family would be laying out presents, my uncle told me that Santa Claus had a single eye, and that if you looked into it, it would turn you to stone. Needless to say, I may be one of the few who was relieved to discover that Santa wasn't real.
I must admit that my favorite holiday traditions involve food! Following Italian custom, Christmas Eve dinner always consists of seafood, like shrimp, calamari, and cod, (and, of course, pasta!). And, on Christmas morning, my mom would make cinnamon buns and hot chocolate for us to enjoy while opening presents. There’s nothing like enjoying a delicious meal with the ones you love.
This time of year lends itself to unashamedly overindulging on sweets, and there's such a wide variety to choose from. My family usually goes for the standard holiday treats but nothing gets my taste buds going like Welsh Tea Cakes. My grandma always had them ready for us and now the torch has been passed to my mom to make this wonderful, butter-based dessert. They're such a hit that she sends them to family members across the country. I always bring back a haul of the cookie cakes and put some in the freezer to ration them throughout the year.
My mother stumbled across a German tradition when my siblings and I were in middle school, that we continue to this day. The practice, in which a pickle, (historically a real pickle) is hidden amongst the ornaments of a Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. All the kids would gather around and the first to find the ornament would receive an extra present. As tastes vary greatly in my family's household, the extra present in question was typically a cash present. Various strategies evolved over the year for best locating the pickle, which in my family’s case was always a pickle ornament, not an actual pickle.
However you celebrate the season, we wish you and yours a very happy holiday!