Happy holidays guys! With the winter solstice just yesterday and Christmas in a couple days, I thought I would share some of our new and old traditions with you all.
I come from a family of blended beliefs, as I am sure many of us do. As a kid, my mom was adamant about raising us in a way that allowed us to find our own belief systems instead of following her way, but also keeping traditions alive. I grew up celebrating the holidays in that same blended way. We decorated our Christmas tree with lights, tinsel, and old ornaments collected over the years. Our tree wore a
As I got older and started discovering what it is that I believed in, I began to mix my own traditions into the ones I grew up with. I developed a specific way of decorating my bedroom for the holidays, bringing in more natural elements like holly, pine cones, and cinnamon sticks. Santa Clause figurines still decorate my shelves, but they look more like a mixture between vintage Santa and a mystical wizard. I fell in love with the meaning behind old Winter Solstice celebrations, Argentine (where my grandma is from) Christmas celebration, and the traditions from a time when things seemed simpler and harder all at once.
Now that I have kids of my own I want to start creating traditions with them. I want them to look back at their childhood with nostalgia and joy. I want them to remember the ways we celebrated that were unique to our family and get to experience traditions that were passed down by family members before their time.
Here are some of the traditions we will be continuing and starting this year.
Winter Solstice + Christmas Traditions
Our tree is filled with handmade ornaments that have been collected over the years.
Cinnamon Salt Dough Recipe:
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 c salt
- 1/2 cup cinnamon
- 3/4 cup warm water
- Knead all ingredients into a dough with your hands. Roll dough into a ball then flatten it out with a rolling pin on a flat surface. Use cookie cutters or mason jar lids to cut shapes out of the dough. Poke a hole into the top of your ornament with a chopstick.
- To dry, lay ornaments out on a baking sheet with wax paper. Heat oven to 175 degrees and let bake for 45 minutes – 2 hours, depending on the thickness of your ornaments.
The Holly King vs. The Oak King
The story of the Holly King and the Oak King is one of my favorites. It’s the story of light and darkness and a battle that happens twice a year. During the winter solstice, the Oak King conquers the Holly King (who reigns during the dark times between summer and winter as the days shorten) in battle and reigns supreme as light returns and the days slowly grow longer.
Pomanders + Garland
There’s an old winter tradition of sticking cloves into oranges which are called pomanders. Pomanders date back to the medieval times where a ball of perfume was worn and was used to ward off infection and bad odors. Today, hanging
Another fun seasonal craft I like is stringing together dried orange or apple slices with cinnamon as a beautiful garland to hang around your home. I love using natural elements to decorate with, and these are absolutely stunning!
Candles in the window
I’ve always been a big fan of candles and light them whenever I get the chance. I love bringing the light and warmth of
Christmas Eve Sandwiches + Celebration
Christmas Eve has always been a big deal on my mom’s side of the family. I remember having a big family gathering with all my aunts and uncles and cousins. We would feast and drink wine (sparkling grape juice for the kids) and laugh (and fight).
Christmas Eve is still a big deal for us, but we keep it more close-knit now. On Christmas Eve we always have sandwiches for dinner. We drink wine and eggnog and play games as a family. At midnight each person gets to open one present, then we head off to bed.
Hot Chocolate + Movies
One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is curling up with a cup of hot chocolate and watching all the Christmas movies on TV. And I mean all of them (even the cheesy romances that make absolutely no sense).
Santa, The Christmas Witches, Baby Jesus, & The Grinch
You guys know how I love stories. To me, stories are important because they tell our history, whether they live in truth or fantasy, and I like to tell them all. During our bedtime routine, we usually read a couple of books. This month I opted for storytelling instead. The girls have heard every story, from Santa and the Grinch to the Christmas witches and the story of Bethlehem. They’ve heard tales of Odin and Rudolf and Scrooge and tree faires.
What are some of your favorite family traditions? Are you adding any new ones this year?