The tree is up and the house is decorated for the Holidays. Christmas music is playing and smells of fresh baked cookies fill the house. As I bake I wonder what will happen to our family traditions. My son is dating a very nice girl, but she’s not into baking or interested in Christmas decorating.
Mom always kicked off the Christmas Season on the 6th of December by celebrating St. Nicholas. As children, my brother and I would hang our stockings up the night before. In the morning the stockings would be brimming with chocolates, a candy cane, a pair of gloves, a dime and an orange. That was what my mother received as a child. She loved telling the story how she would roll her orange to make it juicy inside, then stick part of her candy cane in and sip the juice out. As we got older she continued giving everyone a small gift to celebrate the day.
My in-laws put a lot of emphasis on the holiday foods. Their big feast occurs on Christmas Eve at the Wigilia supper. The table is filled with fish, homemade pierogi, sauerkraut soup and delectable sweets like Russian torte and apricot cookies. Before digging into the feast, everyone receives a piece of Christmas wafer called Oplatek. This wafer is often called the “bread of love” and, as a piece is broken off, you offer a good wish to each other for the coming new year.
When I got married, I started our own traditions by blending in the ones from both families and adding our own. The tree is always decorated in time for St. Nicholas and we still exchange a small gift. M&M Champ cookies and a bottle of eggnog start off the holidays season. I learned how to make pierogi, sauerkraut soup and Russian torte (Gramma still provides her special apricot cookies) and we celebrate the traditional Wigilia supper. Christmas presents are opened Christmas Eve and the stockings are filled and opened on Christmas morning.
The Holiday Season is exhausting with shopping, decorating, and cooking, but the memories that are made are priceless and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s wishing all of you Happy Holidays and an amazing New Year!