Everyone has at least one holiday tradition they do every year! Some may have a favourite movie to get them in the spirit or decorating the house a certain day. Here at Tourism Langley, we have a lot of holiday traditions around the Office. We wanted to share some of our favourite traditions for the season!
Christmas has always been an important family holiday for me and as I reflect back, I realize it is because of the cultural awareness Christmas brought to me as a child, and in as many ways possible, continues on to my own grown children today.
Ukrainian festivities begin on Christmas Eve with the traditional Christmas Eve Supper. There are many customs that Ukrainian families bestow on this special Eve, but it was the twelve-course meatless Supper that everyone enjoyed. It was a time when everyone came together to embrace the events of the year. My favorite foods included Kutia, borscht, varenyky and holubtsi and today, they are served on my own dinner table each year, handmade from recipes I developed by watching and helping my grandmothers, mother, aunts and cousins many years ago.
As was also custom in the Ukraine on St. Nicholas Day, which was the usual gift-giving day in much of Europe, it was the custom that everyone receives a new article of clothing. Thus, today; on Christmas Eve, long after the last of the Christmas Eve Supper has been cleaned away, one gift is opened before retiring to bed. Can you guess what it could be?
Growing up my favourite Christmas tradition was always hunting for our real Christmas tree. You can read more about those experiences here, but I’m happy to say that I have finally renewed that tradition this year and visited a local u-cut farm to find a full, beautiful, woodsy-smelling Fraser fir tree to adorn with ornaments and sparkling lights.
Another tradition I have at Christmastime is watching the Sound of Music. I’m not sure why stations play this movie every year during the holiday season when there is no particular connection to Christmas, however it is one of my favourite movies that the whole family enjoys. So whether we come upon it on TV or put in the DVD, not a year goes by without us watching Julie Andrews win over the hearts of the Von Trapp family through song and dance.
I don’t have a particularly large family, but when we all get together it becomes quite the crowd. When discussing Christmas gifts, we often choose to do a Secret Santa type exchange, however occasionally, an often overzealous, albeit very talented in the craft department, Aunt decides that instead of buying gifts, we should all make something! Now luckily my family are all very crafty and handy people so ideas come quite naturally and these Christmas’ are filled with hand-sewn aprons, home-made vanilla extract, stained glass masterpieces and birch tree candle holders. Although D.I.Y talents come in handy, they’re not necessarily required, and whether or not you possess the crafty-gene I would recommend trying this out one year. You’ll be amazed at the thoughtful gifts you’ll receive, and the hidden talents that emerge from the least likely of places.
So, this tradition began innocently enough between all of us cousins when we were in our late teens and early 20s. We would each draw one person’s name and buy them a secret Santa gift. As the years went on and more cousins, significant others, spouses became a part of the holiday season the game began to evolve. It then became a secret santa game where everyone just brings a present at a pre-decided value and places it in the Secret Santa Steal section of the room. Once all of the presents have arrived and after dinner and a few holiday beverages, we draw numbers to see the order in which we will pick our gifts. Once the order is established, the rules are usually repeated a few time as people seem to “conveniently” forget them during the game. The gifts are picked in order of the draw. After the first person has chosen a gift, they do not get to open it, they just place it in front of them. The next person in line can then pick a present for themselves, or “steal” one of the presents from one of the people who went before them. If that happens, then that person can either pick a new present, or steal an existing present from someone else. Once a present has been stolen twice, then that present can no longer be stolen and stays with that person. At the end we then each open the gifts and see what all of the fuss was about.
One of the fun parts of this game as it involves has been how the gifts are beginning to be wrapped so that one has no idea what they may be fussing over or stealing. At the end of the game we have a little vote to see who chose the most unique and most coveted gift, and occasionally take a few pot shots at anyone who chose a lame gift or gift certificate!
Ever since I was a little girl, Christmas has always been my favourite holiday! My family does have a lot of traditions that are a must every year. Our first tradition is to watch Chevy Chase’s Christmas Vacation! Nothing beats a good old fashioned Christmas movie, we all sit down and watch it or we put it on while we decorate the Christmas tree. Of course, after every viewing, we spend the rest of the holidays quoting the movie.
Another tradition, is actually a newer tradition in our family. Now that most of my family are above the drinking age, some of us claim to have the perfect Christmas drink. This normally spirals into everyone bringing their Christmas drink ideas. The only catch, is you have to make one for everyone and our family are the voters. It’s great to always see the creativity within my family and I guess a little help from Pinterest to get the ideas flowing!
I do have a tradition, I like to keep on every year. Since I was 5, I have either been in a Nutcracker or seen a nutcracker every Christmas. It’s been a lot of Nutcrackers and some of the performances have been in the UK, San Francisco, some local companies and even in the Cineplex to watch the live performance of the National Ballet’s Nutcracker! I have been a variety of roles throughout my 20 years of dancing. From a baby mouse and buffoons to a flower in Waltz of the Flower and my all-time favorites role, the Sugar plum fairy! I love keeping this tradition alive, as the music is so beautiful and evokes a sense of holiday spirit in me… even though that would begin in September when rehearsals started!