Family Christmas Eve Traditions
The most exciting night of the holiday season is Christmas Eve night. Kids will turn in early on this night. But, before they do, share some Christmas Eve traditions with them that will make the night even better.
Some families use Christmas Eve as a time to open one present each. Since the majority of gift exchanging is done on Christmas day, everyone can open a small gift the night before. An idea for parents is to purchase a small gift for kids just to be opened on Christmas Eve.
What about the meaning of Christmas? The Christian meaning of Christmas came into being more than 2,000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem in the Middle East. The Christ child was born to the Virgin Mary and her carpenter husband. The story of the birth of Christ can be found in the Bible in the book of St. Luke, Chapter two. Gather everyone in the living room and share the story.
You can read the bible verses to the group. For the little kids, continue by telling the story in your own words so that they can understand it. Christian bookstores carry picture books about the Nativity so the children can see as well as hear.
Christian and secular traditions don't have to exist separately. The two can be merged to create a well-rounded holiday family tradition. For those parents that choose not to let their children believe in Santa Claus, tell them the story of St. Nicholas. When a child really thinks about it, he or she will realize that no one can make it around the world to every home in a night, let alone fly on a sleigh to do it.
St. Nicholas is the bishop on whom the legend is based. He was a Christian man who sought to use his money to serve the people in godly ways. He was so loved that after his death, stories circulated about his many deeds. Over time, the good deeds turned into miracles performed. In Europe, more specifically among the Dutch, the legend of Sinterklaas was born. He was the predecessor of the American folk hero, Santa Claus.
One tradition that is a good one to observe on Christmas Eve is for each family member to tell what they appreciate about the holiday season and other family members. Questions like this get the children thinking about something other than themselves and the gifts they may receive. The younger ones may still yell out that they are thankful for toys and candy, but as the family continues with the Christmas Eve tradition each year, their thinking will expand to the outside world.
Fix everyone a cup of hot cocoa or apple cider and sing songs of the season. If it is cold outside, light the fireplace. Each person can take a turn starting off the singing of their favorite Christmas carol. By the time the singing and sipping is over, the young ones will be ready for bed and everyone will be full of the Christmas spirit and ready for the big day ahead tomorrow.
Yet another reading tradition involves reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas just before everyone is ready to go to bed. As children get older and learn to read this is a great story for them to read to the whole family as well.
Good holiday movies are another Christmas Eve tradition that can be shared by the family. Some favorite choices for kids: Home Alone, Christmas on 34th Street, A Flintstone Christmas Carol, and the Muppet's Christmas Carol. These holiday movies are hilarious and great for the whole family.
When the younger kids fall asleep you can upgrade to other movies if you'd like. Some funny ones are: Christmas with the Kranks, Deck the Halls, Elf, and The Santa Clause. More nostalgic movies include: A Christmas Carol, The Christmas Shoes, It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story and White Christmas. When you fall asleep visions of sugar plums will be dancing in your head, too.
Family traditions are important. They lend meaning to our lives and give kids a stable base to grow on. As your children grow and have families of their own you'll love watching them pass on the good times and family traditions they grew up with to their own children. There is also bound to be some funny (or maybe even embarrassing) times you'll laugh about for years to come as Christmas time is great for creating lifelong memories for the whole family.
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