In keeping with last year’s theme, when I asked some of my favourite artists and designers to share their most special holiday traditions, I’ve invited five blogger friends from four continents to talk about the traditions that recapture the joy and spirit of Christmas for them year after year. Heart-warming stories which promise to keep you inspired this festive season.
“First let me say thank you so much to Ada for having me here on Classiq. I adore the holiday season and I think Ada and I share a similar sentiment of the season due to having such magical childhood memories. When I was little, of course I was very excited about the presents, and as an adult, I still remember those roller skates I got one year, but most of my memories, what I hold dear and reflect on now with such fond feelings, are of the traditions that surrounded this time of year. My grandparents were the ones that really held the key to unlock this magic for me. The whole month was spent decorating, cutting our own tree, making gingerbread houses and peanut brittle, baking pies, looking at holiday lights, and having a night where they would invite their friends to sing Christmas carols.
Now that I have my own children and my grandparents have passed away, I know I am the one who holds that key for them. And not only for them, but for myself too. I know I now get to pass on traditions from my childhood and also create new ones for us. One of the traditions that I created for my family is an advent calendar. Having an online shop I tend to be fairly busy in the first few weeks of the holidays and so this is a great way for me to connect with the season and my children on a daily basis.
For our advent calendar I like to mix in a few small gifts, but I really like to focus on actions, feelings of gratitude, and togetherness. With that, one day might have a riddle to find a hidden treat in the house, the next day may be that we all get a piece of chocolate, another day may be that we all try to do one nice thing for each other, and other days may have activities like to make a new ornament for the tree, or make a handmade gift for someone. This has become a really special tradition for us that connects us with each other and the spirit of giving – not only of gifts, but of ourselves. Thanks again, Ada, and I hope that this season brings magic to you, your family, and all of your readers!”
Christine Dinsmore, Portland, Oregon, USA | The Plumed Nest and Plumed Shop
“An Icelander with Danish ancestors is bound to find a Danish dessert at the Christmas table. For the last 5 years I have served risalamande (a rice and almond pudding) with cherry sauce on Christmas Eve. This tradition reminds me of my roots, where members of my paternal family come from, and of the Danish influences I grew up with. It took a relative on my mother’s side (no Danish ancestors there) to evoke it at Christmas in Copenhagen back in 2009. As a child, I never travelled to Denmark and, honestly, wasn’t even interested in learning Danish, but the spirit of Denmark filled the space. Home accessories in my grandparents’ house were mainly a Danish design – objects of admiration. The morning of 24th December starts with me preparing the pudding, to which is added a vanilla pod. The scent of the vanilla fills the home and all one can think about is the first heart-warming spoonful in the evening. Happy Holidays everyone!”
Lisa Hjalt, from Iceland, currently living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England | LatteLisa
“It’s all about the food and the weather for us on Christmas Day. The little one will jump out of bed and check that the glass of milk and cookies that we left on the dining table for Santa and the reindeers the night before have been eaten. I’ll find a Christmas cd to play in the background or an old b&w movie on television to put on as we unwrap some presents on the floor in our pyjamas. No matter what type of weather we have, there will always be a roast in the oven. Yes, even if it is 35 degrees or more! A leg of lamb is usually the case, and there will be prawns on the bbq, but both will be accompanied with a couple of fresh salads and veggies which will be harvested from our garden. A feast is what comes to mind. But by the time dessert gets bought to the table, everyone is stuffed! I will have my traditional Christmas cake (although I would like to attempt a steamed pudding this year), some greek biscuits, homemade hedgehog, more cookies … it really is a case of wearing roomy or stretchy pants! More presents get opened and more laughter and surprises. A good latte or an affogato with dessert, then its time for the clean up. It really is about the food, the beautiful weather, and the people sitting around the table and enjoying a special day together for another year. I hope all your readers feel the warmth and happiness that comes from spending a magical day with their family and friends too.”
Helen Baldwin, Melbourne, Australia | The Style Schedule
“Christmas is a celebration of love… that’s what my parents told me when I was a little girl. And that’s what my Christmas has always been connected with, although I travelled the world on many Christmas Eves carrying more free spirit than Christmas decoration in my luggage. A celebration of love… that’s what I feel while playing with my sons, decorating the Christmas tree and cooking traditional Bulgarian and German cakes, panpepato and handmake truffle-chocolates. We decorated the Christmas tree at the end of November this year. It shines with happy colors in the living room. The ornaments are handmade or collected throughout the years. The first presents are already at home. I know it’s a secret which only Santa knows, but I can mention it because my kids are too small to read. There is a lego, a creative set to draw and do craft, and the book “The Gift of Nothing” by Patrick McDonnell. Books, travels and experiences are my favourite gifts. Someone said that they are the only things we buy that make us richer.”
Maria Spassov, from Bulgaria, currently living between The Black Sea, Bulgaria, and Frankfurt, Germany | Design Elements
“I love Christmas. For me, there is no more perfect season than Christmas! One of the first things I do is right after Thanksgiving, I start listening to Holiday music and just that makes me see everything around me different and with a sense of hope and expectation. Growing up, one of my most beloved tradition was “Las parrandas o Los Aguinaldos” that brings unity to the neighborhood. In this tradition, neighbors pick one home in advance and surprise the host, singing Christmas carols. The host should offer ginger tea and sweet cookies. My second favorite tradition is walking around town to see the street vendors selling affordable toys. I could still smell the rubber dolls while seeing the Christmas lights glittering above from one side of the street to the other. They used to look like stars. Another tradition I grew up with was drinking cold eggnog; the national eggnog had very low percentage of alcohol, but I was allowed to drink just a small cup on Christmas Eve. Thanks, Ada, for the invitation and Merry Christmas!”
Julie Yenicag Paulino, from New York, currently living in São Paulo, Brazil | Belle Vivir and Tyche Jewelry
Thank you, ladies, for this special moment, and Happy Holidays!
photos: 1,2: by me / 3-Lisa Hjalt / 4-Kinfolk Magazine / 5-Christine Dinsmore / 6-Wooden Story / 7-Age Old Tree, via LatteLisa / 8-Park & Cube / 9-GQ / 10-Weekdaycarnival
Thank you for the invitation! I had a great time putting together the post and you made it even better with your always beautiful images. Hugs from Brasil and Merry Christmas again!
The pleasure was all mine, Julie. Christmas feels even more special now, learning how each one of you like to celebrate the holidays.
This is wonderful Ada!
I love the tree “branches” on the presents. It is just lovely.
this is such a lovely compilation of holiday traditions. i absolutely adore how you chose people from around the world to share their favorites. thank you so much for inviting me to be apart of something so special ada. xo
My pleasure, Christine. We do share similar sentiments for the holidays and you are right, the first reason for that is due to the happy memories from my childhood. But your advent calendar tradition is a very special one and I’d like to create my own too in the future.
Ada It is so wonderful to hear about Holiday traditions from bloggers around the world. I adore Julie and her eggnog tradition is one we share!
The Arts by Karena
Karena, the eggnog tradition is another one I am yet to try. Yes, it’s wonderful to have this gathering of special Christmas customs from around the world. I want to try them all.
Ada, I loved catching up with all the other traditions for Christmas from around the world (what a great mix you have!). It’s nice to read that I’m not the only one focusing on food on the days leading up to the 25th (of course, I am drawn to the Danish dessert of Lisa’s, Risalamande!) :).
The tree is sparkling in the living area, the gifts are wrapped (one last one to go!), and yesterday I baked a batch of mini christmas cakes that will make perfect gifts for neighbours and friends. (I’ll post a picture later today).
Thanks so much for inviting me to join you and other blog friends on an around the world Christmas journey.
Signing off from sunny Melbourne where it will be 31degrees today (see, I told you it will get warm!)…
Thank you for accepting my invitation, Helen. Of course I want to try Lisa’s risalamande recipe, too. I would love to make it part of the menu this year. I admit, Christmas at thirty something degrees sounds so strange to me, but maybe it’s an experience that should be lived at least once. I am one of those who dream of a white Christmas year after year, although it happens less and less often.
Going off of Christine’s tradition, an advent calendar was never really a tradition in my household. My husband is Jewish so it wasn’t an option for him either! However, I’ve wanted to start only because I want our children to enjoy the joy of a treat once a day leading up to Christmas. This year, I bought a box of chocolate, peppermint, ginger, and peanut butter cookies. 24 cookies came in this colorful and pretty box and it is perfect for one cookie a day leading up to Christmas. A delicious little treat.
I love Christine’s advent calendar tradition and although this year is too late for it, it’s something I ‘m looking forward to creating for next year. Home-made cookies will certainly be part of it.
Oh, Ada, your blog is beautiful! I’m so glad you featured my friend Christine! It brought me here and I’ll be back. I love the holidays, and each feature reminded me of a piece of our own traditions, either the ones I had growing up or the ones we’ve created for our own family. I’ll share one for you that friends of ours do and I *wish* we did. They have a beautiful table top sleigh that they use as a centerpiece on their dining table during the holidays. On Christmas Day, the sleigh it filled with small, meaningful presents that you open after Christmas dinner. Maybe a book that reminds you of the person or a pocket knife for a coming-of-age boy. Isn’t that a lovely tradition?
Thank you, Lauren, for stopping by, and thank you for sharing that wonderful tradition of your friends. I would love to put it into practice this year and maybe become a tradition in our family too.
Reading about Christmas traditions while enjoying the morning coffee is an ideal way to start the day. Thank you, Ada, for featuring me in your post. I believe I’m even readier for the holidays!
Thank you for being part of this special Christmas feature, Lisa. I must try your recipe, especially that it comes with such a wonderful story. I can imagine the Christmas Eve atmosphere you describe, the perfect family Christmas mood.
Oh how lovely and festive!