I’m Danish and was lately surprised to learn that in our neighbor country Sweden they don’t dance around the Christmas tree. Well, in Denmark we hold hands and walk around it while singing. So each country are probably more different than we think.
Now, let me say that I am from Spain, so my list is your list upside down:
1.- I dislike all the big excessive merchandaising that is saturating us these days.I dislike Teresa nazivonder points so MERRY CHISTMAS, HAPPY NEW YEAR AND GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU
2.- I don’t make a Christmas tree, I don’t have any gift by Nadal, We have gifts by january the 6.I enjoy playing with my violin carols and terrible christmas music with my friends while strolling the street of my city and at home while lunching, dining and whatever and I enjoy Christmas eve and Christmas day with my big family. We have spent almost four months making our Belén. I like planting a Belen in some mountain near my city with my friends.
And of course, as every year I play some christmas IF in that month.
A full dinner (apéritif, entrée, entrée 2, fish, meat, cheese, dessert, snackies) on the 24th that will span at least 6h from the first drink during the apéritif until the last drop of liqueur/coffee before leaving. THEN another full lunch the 25th (same thing but without entrée 2 and maybe just fish or just meat). Usually one is with one side of the family and the other meal with the other.
We are so cliché it hurts…
Although, we’ve ditched the dinner on the 24th for a small meal with just parents+siblings instead of the extended family.
the norm in Italy ? extended family together, preferably at the largest/ancestral house of the extended family… guess who’s house is both…
on 2) Is definitively IT: I always play vintage IF during the eve and xmas afternoons (also a convenient mean of staying out of divergences between cousins…), always 20 or 30 year old. So this year I have two excellent vintages, 1993 and 2003 for my little xmas ritual…
Those with big houses still do, but it seems to be more rare than it used to be. We used to dance around the Christmas tree in school and at the scouts when I was a kid in Skåne (But down here we’re almost Danish of course)
Anyway, for me, Christmas is above all a time for listening to all the wonderful Christmas music, mainly traditional Swedish and German, but also British and US. It is also a time to play retro games and to play with my niece and nephews. I still love it!
Eating and drinking far too much, turkey, mince pies, Christmas pudding, pantomime, families fighting over which TV specials to watch, pop stars fighting over who gets to be Christmas number one in the charts, the King giving a speech on TV, terrible office Christmas parties in town centres where people get so drunk they can’t look their colleagues in the eye for a month and somebody gets arrested, plus another thousand and one British peculiarities that I’d be here until Boxing Day if I listed in totality.
I’ve been sober for nearly five years so don’t do the drunkenness these days. Also, my family have never had turkey 'cause we don’t like it (and I’m vegetarian anyway) - and I was probably a child the last time I went to a panto!
I wasn’t aware that turkey is a thing in Britain. Because turkeys root in North America. But off course, traditions cross borders. Germans eat lots of potatoes, and potatoes are from America, too. And I should have known anyway because I saw the Mr. Bean christmas episode. And there the turkey plays a central role…
Australia, but we’re very much a multicultural society so there’s a wide variance:
Usually a Christmas day lunch which, despite the heat, is often a variety of roasts. This is often with the family. That said, my brother-in-law is Australian with a Maltese background and they do gigantic serves of spaghetti Bolognese and pasta like that.
We’re doing a less traditional (but becoming more common) lunch of going to a restaurant for lunch. Also traditionally Australia has a big boxing day with friends coming around to watch the cricket, play some backyard cricket and have a different kind of casual feast/piss-up (maybe more seafood). We’re unlikely to do that, but it’s usually the big to-do at my folks’ place.
But as I say, there’s a huge variety of Australian Christmases, even amongst just the Anglo-types.
The cliché in the UK is a Christmas tree that goes up at least a week in advance (possibly as early as December), other decorations to taste (and beyond taste in some cases), stockings, family around the table, waking up early to open Christmas presents, eating turkey with all the trimmings, the radio playlists being the same two dozen songs (half of which are older than the average listener), dozing off to the King’s Speech, arguments over Monopoly and watching Christmas films/concerts/other special programming together. Thank you, @Dee Cooke, for reminding me about the terrible office Christmas parties.
My family has no Christmas tree. Instead, there are Christmas branches from the gardener that have been discarded from other people’s trees. This originated because toddlers find it much harder to knock a Christmas branch off the wall than knock over a Christmas tree - and the branches are much lighter if someone did happen to have a mishap. (My family adopted the tradition well over 3 decades ago and no such mishap with branches yet). They are decorated traditionally, with lots of tinsel, heirloom figures and a large foil “candle” in years where there’s enough space to hang it from the ceiling (this doesn’t always happen). Something tells me this idea will not take off in Sweden…
The branches never go up until everyone is home from their last day of work before Christmas. Once this happens, it’s open season on when to start decorating them. We usually do it on Christmas Eve, so sometimes there are bare branches for a couple of days. This year, we did it between 5 pm and 7 pm. Our record was back in 2001, when it wasn’t finished until 9:36 pm on Christmas Eve. Our reward for all this is cheese and crackers, generally accompanied by salad, garlic bread, charcuterie, pickled onions and/or experimental sides (lobster thermidor last year. This year we played it safe and enjoyed a raspberry cream cake slice from a local baker).
Other decorations are minimal - a strip of blue Christmas lights that is left out all year (and turned on for certain occasions, such as the coronation earlier this year, and momentous household events like a birth in the family) gets turned on 12 days before Christmas and kept on until Epiphany (January 6). This is connected to a local superstition about Christmas decorations being unlucky if not handled this way - unless the decoration is left up until next “12 days before Christmas”.
The family stockings are pillowcases. These days, these are strictly symbolic and this year, nobody has one because we can’t get past all the building stuff to get to where they are stored.
There will be family round the table (the big day for that is Boxing Day, but some of us will be at the Christmas Day meal.). There will be a lot of board games.
By tradition, my family wraps Christmas presents either very late on Christmas Eve (the older generation) or very early on Christmas Day (the younger generations). The younger ones sneak downstairs one at a time once this is completed, put the presents somewhere near the pillowcases and sneak upstairs again without waking up our slightly better-organised elders. At around 8:30 am, we all go downstairs as if nothing had happened and eat breakfast before anyone starts opening presents. Some years, people have to work - occasionally this has delayed present-opening until mid-afternoon.
Turkey with all the trimmings - yes. Specialty: 5 different stuffings for the turkey (1 is the usual and only strictly necessary number to stuff a turkey). It’s a 2-course meal. Main course: turkey (leg for me, body meat for everyone else), gravy, roast and mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, carrots, Brussels sprouts, peas, swedes, onions, pigs in blankets and the 5 stuffings. Pudding: a heavily-fruited Christmas pudding with custard, cream, berries and optional brandy butter. A simpler presentation of turkey (e.g. turkey sandwiches) is presented at some point on Boxing Day. The part of the turkey not needed for Christmas/Boxing Day is kept frozen (I don’t know the secret to how this is done) and usually eaten in mid-January in a single-course version of the Christmas Day meal, just when everyone’s memories of turkey have faded a little.
The radio is on Radio 4 for much of the day and on Christmas Ever, everyone drops everything to listen to Carols from King’s (which has 9 carols, many long-familiar and some among the 2 dozen radios play at this time of year) if possible. At some point, the album of Gregorian Chant will get played in its entirety (the radio doesn’t play that genre) and someone usually gets a music CD for Christmas (usually something some radio station somewhere would consider any week except Christmas). Also, one of my relatives is trying to teach the others about the song “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer”, which fell off radio playlists decades ago. So about two dozen songs, but only limited agreement with the standard UK radio playlist.
By the time the King’s Speech is on, we’ll probably be playing a board game, reading books or playing on our computers (in all cases, it is likely we are playing co-operatively or in competition). Monopoly is one of the games over which we argue least, due to some house rules designed to remove the most contentious arguments and allow some quick wins/draws.
Christmas programming will get watched - we watched Home Alone 2 and a(nother) carol concert during decoration and subsequent cheese/crackers, will watch some Christmas TV during the Boxing Day family visits and have already marked the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in the diary. The other TV-related Christmas tradition is laughing at ridiculous Boxing Day sale ads.
My workplace is the only one in the family that has an office Christmas party, and I treat it in a very specific way: pre-pay the tip for my meal, turn up early, buy my own orange juice (this is important to avoid getting an obligation), talk to everyone, enjoy the food and bail before anyone gets a post-meal alcoholic drink. Everyone respects that I want to participate without making anyone confront my non-consumption of alcohol, it makes settling the tip amount that much easier, and this way of doing things makes the party for me something special rather than terrible.
Also Canadian, so more or less what Hal briefly outlined is the more typical approach.
We don’t really make much noise around Christmas or New Years, (though I privately celebrate the latter myself, it’s my favourite holiday) as the real event of this corridor of the year is Lunar New Year, which is typically in February-ish.
We did more or less what we usually do: Christmas becomes whatever the closest weekend day is. There’s good food- absolutely none of it traditional fare, and more so favourites in the family (food with particular significance is more of a Lunar New Years thing.) This year I demolished a bunch of congee with century egg, and nibbled on some sugarcane.
The artificial tree goes up about a week before, and it has jingle bells and tinsel and ornaments and lights and a big pointy star. We’ll do some little crafts in the time leading up, like snowflake chains and tiny paper trees and drawings of his plushies in festive hats.
Me and the little one would normally make snowcats (instead of snowmen) but there’s not a lick of snow at all this year. So, we did a paint by numbers instead and he had a blast.
Presents are opened in the evening, not at the crack of dawn- it’s more relaxed for everyone to be present, and teaches the little kids patience. Usually presents are wrapped by the middle of the month. Everyone sits around and watches the kids tear into their presents, and exclaim about all the fun little treats people get. You say thank you, and all the wrapping paper gets shovelled into a large bag to contain the mess.
Mostly you only gift give to those younger than you, with the expectation it’s the youngest that will get most of the toys, and among the adults, cold hard cash is more typical. Everyone’s budget varies, usually anywhere from 40 to 150 dollars is the range. If you get a particularly nice gift, you’ll get fewer little stocking stuffers. I’m not one of the kids anymore, but I’m one of the young adults, not one of the older adults, so instead of cash, I usually get a gift card related to whatever my apparent interest is- usually books, this year coffee. (This is in addition to practical items, like socks, shoes, sweaters, that sort of thing.)
Usually you get either cash or a gift card, then some clothing items (of nicer quality than you might typically buy yourself), something edible, and something cheaper that’s related to an obvious hobby you have. Little kids get toys, of whatever interest they have at the moment. Adults just give each other money, or a single luxury item like fancy perfume, a watch, earrings, etc.
I inherited a ring this year though, since I’m the eldest girl who had an interest in some of the more feminine pieces. That’s fairly unusual, most jewellery pieces are saved for birthdays.
For those parallel in age to you, you either get each other some nominal treat like something meant to be eaten or consumed like lotion, or you agree to spend a certain amount on each other, swap wishlists, and order off of it. Depends on how much you have to spend. We account for taxes and shipping fees within the budget, so no one goes overboard and you more or less know what you’re getting.
The particularly religious ones will also volunteer a morning and evening at the Buddhist temple, to feed people. Most don’t, and instead just visit the temple during the Lunar New Year. We don’t do church, despite being half Roman Catholic and half Mahayana Buddhist. (Depends on which side of the family.)
I spent time with my cousin, had a great time but she pressed me into service writing labels for all her batches of Shea Butter Magnesium Foot Rub she was gifting her coworkers since my writing is allegedly neater. She was also entertaining the crowd doing her yearly RN standup I’ve heard before which is, of course, all the random stuff they’ve had to remove from people in the ER. We were all joking around of course, “Christmas Tree: Not for butt”; “Pet Labrador: Not for butt.” So I feel perfectly justified in appending all the labels I wrote for her “Magnesium Shea Butter Foot Rub (Not for butt)”