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 😉
You know what’s a good idea: opening up Christmas present when it’s the 25th in Jakarta! Or Australia 😂😂😂😂December 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm
Oooh cheeky! But I like the idea 😀December 22, 2017 at 5:35 pm
I don’t know when this tradition started, but my mom always gets everyone in the family a pair of pajamas that we open on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we all crowd into my parents’ bedroom to open stockings, then go downstairs where all the presents are sorted out and we drink coffee and hot chocolate and open the rest of the gifts. It used to be a quick affair when we kids were younger, but now we each take turns to open gifts and see what everyone else received. Christmas has become a very “chill” affair in my family now that we’re all adults. 🙂December 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm
That sounds really wonderful and cozy! I always think Christmas in pajamas is brilliant. With my family, we also take turns to open the presents, and I love seeing the expressions as they get the gifts. We’re also much more relaxed about it now that we’re adults, but I’ll always cherish those Christmases when we were little, so exciting and heartwarming 😀December 22, 2017 at 5:38 pm
suka deh fotonyaDecember 19, 2017 at 6:37 pm
Makasih Mbak Noni 🙂December 22, 2017 at 5:40 pm
gua juga selalu pasang pohon natal bulan november. biar lamaan.. heheheDecember 19, 2017 at 9:56 pm
Hi 5 Dixie, I also love watching christmas movies in the month of December and I still love Love Actually and also The Holiday😍 My boys like to eat raw cookies dough when I make cookies😝 Christmas always makes me feeling nostalgic and missing home and my mum. Merry christmas to you and H, may you have a wonderful one and amazing new year, Dixie😘😘🎄🎄December 20, 2017 at 1:00 am
Christmassy romcom movies are the best, and so is raw cookie dough hehe. Same here Mbak, now that I live far away from my mom, I feel a bit sad and nostalgic during Christmas.
And thank you! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and new year too 🙂December 22, 2017 at 5:44 pm
aku lebih suka cookies yang terlalu mateng, warna kecoklatan gitu malahan, hahha
and yep I also love to watch christmas movies and listen all the christmas song every December..
Merry christmas and Happy new year to you and H! 😊December 20, 2017 at 2:50 am
Cookies mateng jadi crispy gitu ya, enak juga hehe. Christmas movies and songs are the best to get into the festive spirits 😀
Thank you ya Adele, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too 🙂December 22, 2017 at 5:45 pm
indeed 😀December 26, 2017 at 12:51 am
Aww sounds so great Dixie! I love listening to Christmas songs and reading Christmas books too! To me Christmas used to mean not having the whole family around since dad was a pastor at the local church and Christmas would be one of his busiest time of the year. So nowadays, I really treasure the moments I have with my whole family and it’s definitely a new tradition I’d like to keep. Merry Christmas to you, hope you have a wonderful and joyous celebration!December 20, 2017 at 10:47 am
Yes same Gy! This year, I read A Boy Called Christmas as per your recommendation, and I LOVED it! Thank you so much for recommending it. I feel the same about family, now that I live far away, I really cherish the moments we get to spend together. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too ya Gy 🙂December 22, 2017 at 5:47 pm
Love your post Dix, start last year we have our own little family tradition such as we put Christmas tree after Thanksgiving, bake cookies together, wear Christmas pajama on Christmas’s eve, Christmas movies marathon. Merry Christmas once again 🙂December 24, 2017 at 4:02 pm
I love everything on your list! Christmas traditions are one of my favorite things about the celebration 🙂January 3, 2018 at 9:19 pm