Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year, and one of the many things I love about Christmas is the traditions. They never fail to get me into the festive spirit, and at times, they make me feel a bit nostalgic too.
Throughout the years, some of these traditions have changed and the others stayed the same. As life goes on and I experience new things every year, I enjoy creating new traditions for H and me, while keeping some old traditions that are close to my heart.
Here are some of my favorites.
Eating a ridiculous amount of nastaart, kaasstengels, and other cookies
One of my earliest Christmas memories is waking up to the smell of cookies baked in the oven. I would go to the kitchen and find my mom mixing, rolling the dough, or cutting it into shapes, all while humming the Christmas songs from her old cassettes (yes, cassettes!). Eating a few sneaky bites of the raw dough will always be my favorite part of this, even until now that I’m an adult (tell me I’m not the only one who thinks raw cookie dough is actually more delicious than the baked cookies).
Now that I’m far away from home, these are some of the things I miss the most about Christmas with my family. I might be biased, but my mom’s cookies are the best.
Putting up the Christmas tree in November
I know some people are against putting up the Christmas tree before December (H included), but I honestly LOVE all things Christmassy. It’s all merry, heartwarming, and uplifting. And the thought of putting it up on the first of December, only to take it down again in less than 4 weeks… It’s just too short. I guess I’m very much influenced by my mom. She always puts up Christmas tree in early November, as her excitement for Christmas almost matches (if not exceeds) mine.
Reading Christmassy books
Reading Christmassy books does wonder to get me even more excited for Christmas (if that’s possible). For me, the books don’t have to be about Christmas. Anything set in December or around Christmastime, with detailed descriptions of winter or Christmassy scenes, are enough to put them on the list. I also love browsing through the Christmas collection in the bookshops, and picking up books for my next Christmassy read.
Opening presents right after midnight
Patience has never been my virtue, and waiting for the Christmas morning was just too much. As the clock struck midnight, I would beg my mom into letting me open the presents. “Technically it’s Christmas Day!” became my chant, and my mom would eventually give up. My sister and I would squeal in delight, and in the later years, opening Christmas presents right after midnight would be our traditions, and now I don’t have to pester my mom about opening presents at midnight again.
Watching The Nutcracker performance
It all started 4 years ago, when I volunteered at the local theater. During Christmastime, there weren’t many volunteers left as people had gone home for Christmas. The Nutcracker musical was playing at that time, and as the term time had ended and I found myself with lots of free time, I volunteered almost every day. I watched the performance no less than 10 times (I’m not exaggerating), and it truly fascinated me. There was always something slightly different in each performance, whether it’s the improvisation from the actors or the energy from the audience, it makes every performance special, exciting, and heartwarming.
This year, H and I watched Nutcracker ballet performance by English National Ballet in Southampton, and in Gothenburg, my sister took me to Liseberg amusement park to see The Nutcracker ice ballet. They were just as magical as they were beautiful.
Some people might think this is a pain in the ass, but I absolutely love it. The grocery shopping, the preparation, the cooking, and of course, the dinner. So much laughter, good food, and fun.
Going to the Christmas market
I’m all about cliche, so of course Christmas market is on this list. Mulled wine, bratwurst, warm waffles, and all the beautiful lights and decorations, what’s not to love? It might be too crowded during the weekends and the days closer to Christmas, but the vibe and excitement make it up for me. So far, my favorite are Winchester Christmas market, Bath Christmas market, and Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, but let’s see if I change my mind this year.
Watching Christmassy movies
This goes without saying, and Love, Actually remains as my absolute favorite. I’ve shared my favorite Christmassy romcom movies on this blog before so you can check that out. Other favorite Christmassy movies are Home Alone, The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on the 34th Elm Street, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and Elf.
H and I started this tradition of watching 1-2 Christmas movie(s) every day in the last week before Christmas, with wine (and prosecco on Christmas Eve). With December being the busiest month at work (usually), this tradition helps us wind down and relax before the day.
Listening to Christmas songs
…on repeat, all day long for days leading up to Christmas. My favorite is She and Him Christmas album, followed by some songs in Michael Buble Christmas album (especially It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas and The Christmas Song). Other favorites are I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard, Fairytale of New York by The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl, and Happy Christmas by John Lennon.
I can’t help but smiling whenever I heard these songs, as they bring back so many memories. H and I got close during Christmastime, and it all started when our housemates dragged us to a club for a night out before everyone went home for Christmas. They played Christmas songs all night long in the club, so H and I danced to these songs while our housemates were staring at us, giggling with a knowing look on their faces.
Ah, good memories.
Now that I think about it, my traditions are pretty standard, but I’m looking forward to creating new traditions with H in the years to come.
What’s your favorite Christmas tradition? Please share it with me, I always love reading people’s traditions, they’re all very personal and unique, and who knows if these can inspire me to start new Christmas traditions 😉