With the twinkling lights, hot cocoa, family time, carols, and baked goods there is almost nothing that I like better than Christmas. One of my favorite things to do is have a cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie on while I bake cookies or write Christmas cards. It really adds to the season and makes me feel the spirit.
With all of that being said, it’s safe to say that I love Christmas.
However, it’s so easy to get too busy with the hustle and bustle and forget that Christmas is at it’s core a spiritual season. As Christians, know that Christmas isn’t about presents or Santa Claus.
Our joy doesn’t come from cookies or decorations but that the Word of God- the Logos, Christ, became flesh.Joanna Kauer
This is a mystery that so intrinsic to our faith and dumbfounded the wise men.
God became a child in His simpleness and vulnerability and changed all of history forever. We know can say, thanks to Christ Our King, that we measure power in weakness rather than strength.
This special time in our Church is a perfect time to start some spiritual traditions that will resonate throughout the year. Even small little reminders of Christ can make a big difference in emphasizing the spirituality of the season to your family.
I had an old co-worker that told me that she prays with her children before opening presents; she would let them know that those presents were celebrating Christ and that we need to be thankful to God for what we have. I had never thought about doing something like that but loved the simplicity and beauty of what it teaches: what we have is not our own but gifts directly from God.
Small traditions like the one she mentioned or making hot cocoa or breakfast together before opening presents could set the mood for a reverent day.
New (or old) Christmas Traditions You Can Share With Your Family
This is a common tradition but if you don’t have it, it’s a cute one to pick up. Make sure the whole family has matching pajamas for the morning. This makes it easier to take matching pictures and you’ll know that everyone has their pajamas for the year. I would probably add a prayer that we are all clothed in Christ and make up one family. It’s a good visual way to remember that we belong to each other.
I love the idea of praying before opening presents. You can do this by reading an excerpt from the Nativity Story or just praying that every good and perfect gift comes from God. It’s a beautiful way to add gratitude and proper focus on the joy of the season.
Though it is usually optional to go to Mass on Christmas or Christmas Eve (at least in the United States and for a reason I don’t understand), I think it’s one of the most important things we can do to create a reverent spirit around Christmas. If our families know that the reason we are doing all of these things is to celebrate Jesus then maybe they will understand that what we have is thanks to him. If you are a Catholic, going to Christmas Eve mass is a beautiful experience and assures that we have everything rightly ordered to God.
Every year at Christmas I like getting out of bed a little early and making coffee, hot cocoa, and some sort of sweet breakfast for the family. It’s nice to start off the day with some nourishment and caffeine to lead everyone through the rest of the celebrations.
Christmas Dinner or Noche Buena Potluck
My family is hispanic so we always celebrate Christmas by having a Christmas Eve’s Dinner. This dinner usually starts around 4pm and goes until way after midnight. Family members often bring potluck food and drinks. This can be done either on Christmas Eve or Christmas. I like going around the table and having everyone say something that they’re grateful for or for a wish for the New Year. It helps everyone feel connected. I also had a friend years ago that told me that for her Christmas Dinner their tradition was for everyone to bring a different Christmas plate from a thrift store for the meal. After a few years the family had a beautiful collection of unique Christmas plates that everyone was fond of. It was always a surprise to see which plate they got to use that year!
I have a big family, with very different personalities and tastes. One of the best things we do on the Holidays is to bring out board games and cards and spend hours hanging out and having fun together. Usually one of us will receive a board game as a gift for Christmas so we open that and play it or bring out some of our old favorites. This is a great way to include everyone from little kids to grandparents and get people off of their phones!
My mom’s favorite movie is Christmas with the Kranks. My brother loves A Christmas Story. I’m partial to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Whatever the taste of different family members, there’s always a movie that can be watched together on Christmas. Watching the same movies every year solidifies this as a tradition and creates fond memories of the family and the movies. It’s a great way to spend some quality time together while relaxing from all the busyness of the season.
I got this idea from a neighbor growing up. They would host Christmas baking days a few weeks before Christmas were everyone would get together to make different types of cookies or sweet treats for the family. At the end of the baking-a-thon the cookies would be distributed amongst everyone in tins and jars to give to neighbors, friends, and co-workers or to keep. It was a great way to spend time together while creating a tradition that ended up spreading more joy.
Gingerbread houses are so fun to make and involve a lot of collaborative effort. Consider doing a competition to see who can fully decorate a gingerbread house first. Assign someone to be the judge. This is an easy way to involve the whole family and bring some friendly competition to Christmas. I don’t know how this tradition started but in my family when Christmas is over we like to take the Gingerbread houses outside and destroy it! It’s always a lot of fun.
Is your family musically talented? Can anyone play an instrument? Gathering your family around to sing Christmas carols is a beautiful way to honor God during this time. This can be done after prayer or while cookies are baking. I think this is such a sweet tradition to incorporate into Christmas and doesn’t require anything except your voice.
Celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas
It’s largely forgotten now that the season of Christmas begins on Christmas and ends at the Epiphany 12 days later. Continuing little treats or prayers throughout the 12 days of Christmas reminds everyone that we are still celebrating. Keep up the tree and decorations, keep playing Christmas music, watch some Christmas movies and celebrate the season of Christmas fully!
Epiphany is the feast of the 3 Wise Men and is celebrated on January 6th, it honors the wise men and their journey to bring gifts to baby Jesus. There are some cultures where children are given presents not on Christmas but on Epiphany! Even if you don’t want to do that, honoring Christ by remembering his gifts and what they symbolize is a wonderful way to remember who Christ is to us and how he came into this world to redeem us. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh reflect Christ’s priesthood, kingship, and his prophetic gifts.
We celebrate Christmas not for our sake but for the reality of who Christ is.
Living in the Light of Christmas isn’t something that we only have to do for a month.
If we incorporate spiritual practices into our life all year than we can keep the Christ child, small and alone, poor and vulnerable, perfect love for the world in our hearts.
Do you have any cute traditions that I missed or something that your family made up?
Let me know! I would love to see how different families celebrate the holidays.
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