Tamales and Lutefisk: Sharing Our Holiday Traditions
It’s the holiday season and families everywhere are celebrating this time of year in each of their own special and unique ways. Personalized ornaments, boiled fish, tamales, cookies, nutcrackers and more. Read below to see how the families of MommyCon celebrate the holiday season.
“One of our holiday traditions is giving personalized ornaments to each other each year. Every Christmas Eve, my parents gave my sister and I each a new ornament as a gift. We would unwrap the ornaments and hang them on the tree. The ornaments were usually personalized with our names, something we really liked, or reflected something significant that we did in the preceding year. When we grew up and started our own homes, my parents gave us both our personal set of ornaments to decorate our trees. I still use the ornaments from my childhood to decorate our tree each year. My husband and I have continued this tradition with our children and have expanded it to include giving each other an ornament, as well. Our tree is decorated entirely in these personal ornaments and each and every one is meaningful to us.” – Kate K.
“When I first found out I was pregnant with a boy, my husband mentioned how much boys loved making me thumbprint cookies with their mama’s. On Christmas morning I remembered he said this and in a frantic hurry I threw together 3 dozen delicious as can be thumbprint cookies. Since then, this has become a yearly tradition for our little family to bake and enjoy!” – Xza
“On my dad’s side, we are moderately recent immigrants from Malmo, Sweden. His mother kept many holiday traditions alive, including decorating the tree with Julboken (a goat figurine woven from straw), brewing glögg (wine mulled with spices and fruit), and my father delights each year in stinking up the house with lutefisk (boiled, jellied herring).
One of my favorite Swedish holiday traditions, which I share with my own children, is honoring the Jultomten on Christmas eve. The Jultomten is a mischievous elf who is known to ride in a sleigh drawn by Julboken, and (due to a strong naughty streak) must be thanked/bribed once a year with a bowl of freshly made rice pudding placed out in the snow on Christmas eve. It’s a treasured childhood memory that my mom would forget to make the rice pudding and we would stay up late –me stirring the pot– to feed our elf before midnight. Now I manage my own Tomten via an annual Google calendar reminder, but I love bringing my own children in on the secret. God Jul! (Merry Christmas!)” – Margaret
“Our little family of four started a tradition with another families 4 years ago of making tamales. It is a full day process of mixing, spreading, stuffing, and steaming the tamales. We make hundreds of them and split them up between all the families that help to make them and donate the rest to a local shelter. ” – Nichole
“My Christmas tradition with my dad’s family for the last several years is going to eat brunch on Christmas morning at a Mexican restaurant in San Antonio that’s pretty famous and has the reputation that it never closes. My favorite parts of the holidays has always been getting together with family. It was always the time of year I looked forward to most, because it was when all of my moms side of the family would get together and we almost always had 25-30 people in their small house. My grandfather was Swedish so I also grew up having lutefisk at Christmas when our family was all together. For the last several years I appointed myself as the lutefisk buyer, since my mom had taken over cooking it when my grandmother was not able to make it anymore” – Kate H.
“Growing up, I always had an advent calendar counting up the days until Christmas. The calendar was often filled with candies or coins and it was a fun surprise at the end of each day. I’ve continued this tradition with my three children and each year we display a wooden advent calendar which is “magically” filled each evening by our Elf with goodies for each of them. They look forward to opening the door every evening leading up to Christmas.
Another tradition that I started years ago when we acquired our first home together is collecting nutcrackers. Each year, I choose a new one to add to the collection and they are all displayed on our mantel above the fireplace during the holiday season. This year, my five year old daughter was given the opportunity to choose the new nutcracker for our collection. She chose a sparkly pink one with a large crown and was truly excited to add it to our collection in our home.” – Kelley
“Growing up, one of our traditions was to put up our tree on my birthday, which is one week before Christmas. We would also bake Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve, and wear special Christmas pajamas. And because I’ve never been patient (I was a preemie and born 2 months early), we ended up starting a tradition of opening ONE gift on Christmas Eve. Now with my own family, I’m incorporating those things into our own holiday celebrations. Though I have made the executive decision to put the tree up earlier than a week before Christmas, because if I could, I’d probably have a Christmas tree up all year around, as it’s my favorite time of year!” – LaTia
“Growing up, our Christmas tradition could be summed up in food. Pizza bagels as a meal on Christmas Eve. Cookies for breakfast on Christmas morning. As a grown-up, with a family of my own, neither of these meals has made the cut. Now, all I really want is to hear people laugh. Each year our little corner of the family has a “Yankee Swap”. The first year was a little rough since people couldn’t figure out what to contribute and 1/2 of the presents were coffee. As the years have gone on, the gifts have gotten more ridiculous and based on family memories. Throw pillows with our dear departed grandfathers favorite sayings “Don’t tell me!” and “Let me tell you something”; Airbrushed t-shirt with a pun based on our family name; car vacuum for whichever one of us has a notably “mom” car. The pillows are shown in the photo along with my dad’s feet. He likes to wear socks with loafers and the rest of us like to laugh over his socks and loafers. Although Christmas isn’t about getting gifts, I really look forward to this part of the holiday. Our goal is to make each other laugh, and share stories about the past.” – Niki
“Our family traditions have changed throughout the years since some family members have moved away. When I was little we always picked a house to have our annual Christmas party. All of our family would bring a dish and a gift for a boy and a girl. We played games, sang songs, danced and reminisced on the past. My uncle Paul (who literally looks like Santa) would dress up and give a toy to each of the kids once it struck midnight. We would all gather around say Merry Christmas and give each other a hug and kiss. As years went by it became more difficult for everyone to attend but there is always a family member that will commit to having the party. Before I had Isabella, I would get together with my aunt and make our famous almond chipper with chocolate chips, coconut and amaretto, almond snow ball and cranberry oatmeal cookies and go on a crazy hunt for the Keebler almond crescents cookies. On Christmas Eve, we open one gift and exchange the rest on the 25th. We usually have leftovers for breakfast from the night before and a delicious dinner is prepared with everyones help. I’ve started a new tradition with Isabella of taking a Christmas photo and sending it to all my family before the Holidays.” – Liz
We enjoyed sharing our holiday traditions with you and hope you and your family have a safe and joy-filled holiday season!