Sunday, December 4, 2011

Creating tradition- Yule

As I was growing up, Thanksgiving and Christmas were big deals.  My mom decorated, shopped and cooked herself into a tizzy every year.  She put huge amounts of time, energy and money into the holidays.  It was impressive, to put it all mildly.  My husband isn't into holidays, so it took some negotiating to develop our holiday customs.

We celebrate the winter solstice because it has pagan significance and makes perfect sense to my atheist husband to mark the shortest day of the year. Over the years we have expanded our celebrations to include symbols and traditions that reflect our lives and values.  We don't go overboard on gifts for our kids- the always get some seasonally appropriate clothing (sweaters, slippers or warm jammies), a couple of books and a couple of small toys opened over the course of 5 days. (They get gifts at the equinoxes and Summer solstice, too) Our families send Christmas gifts, which they open on Christmas Day.  Santa (The Winter King- the kids know him by both names) brings handmade gifts (nothing, huge, extravagant or commercial) and I love stuffing stockings with pencils, crayons, fruit and candy (As far as the kids know, I wrestled Santa for the stocking privilege). I prepare a feast on the solstice (last year we made an assortment of appetizers including arancini and proscuitto stuffed mushrooms) that we serve on china and pull out great-grandmother's silver.  We make toasts to our family, to our blessings, to our hopes with champagne or sparkling cider. We light candles and decorate with branches. We watch the "Hogfather" together and read winter books like "Winter King, Summer Queen" and "My Penguin, Osbert".  Celtic holiday music plays through dinner (Big Gerry's "A Sierra Christmas" is a fave from a dulcimer player my parents knew).  We bake cookies and cakes and invite friends to join us.

How do you celebrate Yule?  Do you blend customs?  Create your own?  What music, food, or activities make the holidays special to you and yours?

1 comment:

  1. Right now I am so fed up with preparations and negotiations I might just as well skip the whole sheenanigans and watch horror movies all weekend...


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