The Traditions of Christmas

The traditions of Christmas in America have their roots in many lands, a reflection perhaps of the many nationalities and cultures that make up our nation of immigrants. In this blog we will take a look at the traditions emanating from Poland, England and Ireland.

In Poland families end a fast on Christmas Eve and gather for a dinner to honor the Holy Child. Before supper is served, the father of the house breaks the Christmas wafers, which are marked with Nativity scenes and have been blessed by the church. The father distributes the pieces to all who are present as tokens of peace and friendship. The meatless meal that follows has 12 courses, one for each Apostle.

In England, Christmas is a day of family gaiety and of feasting on turkey with roast potatoes, mince pies and plum puddings. Turkey also is the Christmas meal most chosen by Americans.

In Mexico, the flower of Holy Night, the poinsettia, is seen everywhere during the Christmas season and everywhere, in doorways and arches, there are pinatas. On Christmas Eve, children roam the streets breaking the pinatas with a long stick. When each is broken, a profusion of peanuts, fruits and candy showers down.

IrishcandleinwindowOn Christmas Eve in Ireland, candles are lighted and placed in every window of the house and doors are left ajar. The candlelight and open door are symbols of welcome, assuring the Irish people that no couple seeking shelter for a Baby who is the son of God will be homeless. The candlelight must shine forth all night long, and may be snuffed only by those having the name of Mary.

A cup and saucer is placed on the table in each Irish home for the entertainment of wandering souls from purgatory, who are believed to come home for Christmas.