Holiday Family Traditions
We all have different traditions during the holiday season. For Christmas, some families leave cookies and milk out for Santa on Christmas Eve. For Hanukah, a favorite tradition could be making latkes. Some traditions are passed down from generation to generation, while other traditions are newly created as families grow and change.
No matter what your family tradition is or perhaps this will be the year you start, traditions are great! They bond families and give you something to look forward to, and who knows maybe your children will pass it on to future generations.
Although many families have their own special traditions, some traditions are enjoyed by everyone.
For Christmas, some favorite traditions include:
This tradition doesn’t seem as popular as it once was but singing among family and friends still hits the top ten lists. Bundling up to hit the streets on a cold winter night – and looking forward to coming back home to a cup of hot chocolate (don’t forget the marshmallows).
Christmas movies are a very important part of family traditions. Whether you stay at home and watch rebroadcasts of all old Christmas movie like Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas or A Christmas Story, watch DVD’s or go out to the local theater, movies help families gear up their holiday spirit in the days leading up to the festive day.
Over the years cookie-making has brought many families together. The sound of laughter as the whole family bakes together, the smell of cookies fresh from the oven - what could be better?
Throughout American homes stockings can be found hanging on the fireplace mantel filled with gifts such as CD’s, candy, and socks; for some a lump of coal could also be found.
Besides the manger, there is no better symbol then the Christmas tree. Trees are fully decorated with lights, ornaments and a star on top, waiting for St. Nick to come and fill underneath with presents for the entire family.
For Hanukah, some wonderful family traditions are:
Lighting the Menorah
The Hanukkah celebration revolves around the kindling of a nine-branched menorah, known in Hebrew as the hanukiah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown; the ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others.
Play the Dreidel Game
In order to play the dreidel game all you need is a dreidel (a four-sided spinning top with a Hebrew letter on each side) and some gelt (chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil.) The game is played by spinning the dreidel and betting on which Hebrew letter will be showing when the dreidel stops spinning.
Make Latkes and Sufganiyot
The central miracle in the Hanukkah story is that of the Hanukkah oil, which miraculously lasted for eight days when it should only have lasted one. As a result, fried foods have become traditional fare on Hanukkah with latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (donuts) being the most common foods.
Read Hanukkah Books Together
Reading books together is a wonderful holiday activity. You can read one Hanukkah book a night or designate one night of Hanukkah as the "book reading" night.
Hanukkah has many traditions associated with it so why not make a Hanukkah calendar that counts them down? Every night children can take a tradition from that night's pocket and that is the family activity for the evening.
When celebrating Kwanzaa some wonderful traditions are:
Lighting the candles of the Kinara
During Kwanzaa, candles are placed in a special holder called the Kinara. There are a total of seven candles, known as the Mishumaa Saba, each representing one of the Seven Principles. The candle colors are red, green and black...the colors to be found in the Bendera or African Flag created by Marcus Garvey.
The Mishumaa Saba consists of three red candles, which are placed on the left, three green candles, which are placed on the right, and one single black candle, which is placed in the center. On each day of Kwanzaa, a new candle will be lit as a symbol of the Kwanzaa Nguzo or Principle of that day.
The Karamu Feast
On December 31, families and communities hold a Karamu, which is a special feast, including readings, remembrances and a festive meal. The Karamu feast may consist of traditional African dishes, as well as those featuring ingredients that Africans brought to the United States...sesame seeds, peanuts, sweet potatoes, collard greens and spicy sauces, for example.
Whatever holiday traditions are special for your family, the Board and staff of the Foundation for Ichthyosis & Related Skin Types wish you and your family a joyous holiday season!