Allrecipes is a community of friends, spread out across the world but united through a love of good food and good cheer. This season, we'd like to invite you to share your favorite holiday memories and traditions with the world-wide Allrecipes community--the friends you haven't met yet. Just a few lines will do.
Christmas on the Farm
My family, on Whidbey Island in Washington, owned a Christmas tree farm. Given our family name, Christmas, we always joked that we had the only real "Christmas" trees around. My sister (Holly) and I would help people cut down their tree, take pictures of their family next to it, and sometimes even help set the trees up in their homes. I watched several families grow up doing that--from a Mom and her two young daughters to that same Mom with her latest grandchild. It was a lovely business to be in, and incredibly appropriate for the Christmas family.
Christmas in Finland
The year I lived in Finland I spent Christmas with a family I'd met through my language study program. On the morning of Christmas Eve, I knew we were going somewhere very, very early. At 5AM in my sleepy state, I didn't ask and had no idea of our destination. We drove and drove through pitch black, snow-clad countryside. Only small, glimmering "welcome lights" were lit in the windows of farmhouses. We finally parked outside a medieval stone church surrounded by high walls and silently walked into the church courtyard. Everywhere, tucked into deep snow banks, were glowing candles, flickering in the night to mark each gravesite. The snow expanded their glow of light and filled the darkness, setting the stage for the service in the ancient church lit only with candles, where Christmas melodies echoed off frescoed walls. Hauskaa Joulua is Merry Christmas in Finnish.
A Ukrainian Christmas Eve
Throughout my childhood I spent every Christmas Eve with my Ukrainian relatives. We would stick to Ukrainian traditions by eating a 13 course vegetarian meal (with fish) including kutia (a stew made from wheat, walnuts, poppy seeds, and honey), borscht, buckwheat stuffed cabbages, sauerkraut and peas, and pyrohy. As a child I would rush through the meal, hurrying relatives to finish so we could open presents. As an adult, though, I savor every bite--it's a vegetarian's dream!
New Year's Day in Seattle
After a whirlwind Christmas season every year, it was New Year's I looked forward to the most. Armed with kazoos and cowbells, it was the one time of the year we were allowed to bang our Mom's pots and pans with unabashed glee on the back porch. On New Year's Day, my whole family--Mom, Dad, my brother and I--spent the day together. Having grown up on an island in the Pacific Northwest, it was a rare treat to take a trip off the island to Seattle. It was our tradition we would spend the day ice skating, go out for dinner, and then catch a movie before catching the ferry to go home. To this day I still try to go ice skating and to a movie on New Year's Day.
-- Jenny H.
Holidays Spent Around the World
Christmas traditions were very important, as we grew up around the world, and usually not close to extended family, and started each year with two Christmas trees going up on Thanksgiving Day, after a big turkey dinner. My mother loved everything Christmas, and with four girls over 14 years, the magic of Santa was always a big part of our Christmas, and "he" never let us down! Christmas Eve was always a day of excited anticipation of Santa's big night, with a quick and easy dinner of sloppy joes. After dinner, we would cuddle around Daddy on the couch as he exuberantly read The Night Before Christmas. Off to bed for the younger girls, and the magic would begin! Santa always knew exactly what you were dreaming for, and what you never knew you wanted and absolutely loved. Christmas was a time for family, giving and love, no matter where in the world we were.
Holidays in the Arizona Desert
As a kid growing up in Tucson, I loved the Christmas luminarias. A few days or so before Christmas, we'd shovel a few scoops of desert sand into white paper lunch bags, and then line them up along the edge of the front yard. We'd place a votive candle in each. And in the evenings, when lit, they'd flicker and glow so beautifully. The entire neighborhood was lit up like a landing strip for Santa's sleigh. There always seemed to be a batch of delicious tamales on hand, too. Only later did I learn that Christmas time is actually cold in other places--and doesn't usually include luminarias or tamales.
A Hawaiian Christmas
Living in Hawaii Christmas was all about celebrating with the family and enjoying our multi-cultural foods; Hawaiian, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Japanese…I fondly remember, after a late Christmas Eve of visiting friends and relatives and savoring the many ethnic foods only prepared at this time of year, we packed into the car with our opus (stomachs) filled and headed home, anticipating Santa's arrival by listening to the radio announcer tell us where Santa was in the world right then and how long it would be until he reached Hawaii. Waking Christmas morning to sunshine meant a day of swimming and playing in the warmth of the Hawaiian sun with my cousins and trying out our new toys; listening to the kapunas (grandparents/elderly) sing and play Hawaiian music and tell stories of old Hawaii; standing by my Spanish grandfathers side as he played cards with the men and his great laughter when he won; but most importantly, it meant the Aloha (love) of being all together! No freezing temperatures, just sunshine and hau'oli (happy) times! Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas).
After they married, my parents moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which meant that all our relatives were nearly 400 miles away. Almost every Christmas, two parents, five kids, and the occasional dog would pile into the family station wagon and make the eight-hour journey up Highway 101, usually arriving in the middle of the night at Grandma's house where she would be waiting for us with the kitchen all lit up and cozy. But I would go straight to the dining room to see the line up of her beautiful homemade pies on the sideboard. There was always a chocolate cream pie, a lattice crust apple pie, a pumpkin pie, a mincemeat pie, and a lemon meringue with its magical toasty peaks. To this day, a homemade pie still tastes to me like a welcoming slice of love.