Almost four years ago, Jake and I were about to celebrate our first Christmas together, and I wrote a post about how a multicultural Christmas was something I was trying to build for our budding little family. Jake’s obviously English, and I’m German with plenty of American influence – that’s a lot of traditions to get into one household! Four years later, married for three and with a crazy little two-year-old added to our ranks, I think we’ve got it more or less down. Today, I’m re-reading my original thoughts on our multicultural Christmas and thinking about how they’ve developed and changed over the last four years.
Multi-Cultural Christmas Gifting Conventions
This one was easy to solve once we gave it some thought. When we celebrate in the UK, we open one gift each on Christmas Eve to honour the German tradition, and then do the ‘proper’ opening on Christmas Day. In Germany, where we’re going this year for the first time, we’ll open gifts on Christmas Eve, and we’ll fill Isla’s stocking with little bits and bobs to open on Christmas Day (at 4AM, I’m sure). I can’t believe I ever worried about this. The things you have time for before you have kids.
When to put up your decorations and your tree is possibly the most contentious issue. Everyone has an opinion on it, and they’re all different. In Germany, trees go up on the 23rd and are decorated on the 24th. In the USA, Christmas begins as soon as Thanksgiving is over. In the UK, it varies wildly and part of the fun is gasping in shock when you hear about when everyone else puts up their tree (note to my international readers: I’m not exaggerating, this is 100% true, you should hear the office conversations about trees). We(/I) decided to start decorating on the last Sunday of November, with hot drinks and Christmas treats (lots of vegan Stollen around, guys!), so that we have all of December to enjoy the season. It work for us!
The Advent Crown
Four years ago, I decided we’d be sticking with the traditional German advent crown. It’s a flat-laid wreath with four candles, and you light one more each Sunday of advent. So far, so simple. My ‘crown’ this year isn’t actually a crown, but more of a piece of face greenery with some paper stars and the four candles. I guess you can’t go all out with everything every year. Next year, though, I’m really keen to make a really nice crown that we can use year after year.
This is something that we haven’t done over the last few years (no money, no time, you get the
picture excuses). But now that Isla’s a bit bigger, I’m determined to bring it back. I’m not planning to do anything huge, but a little gift, some oranges and a chocolate santa in her shoe should go a long way to shortening the wait until Christmas!
I’m really glad that I had a look back at this old post, because it’s reminded me of how far we’ve come as a family in building our own traditions. Do you have any multucultural christmas traditions of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them!
This post was first written on the 26th of December, 2013 and updated on the 2nd of December, 2017.