Recently we made a family visit to Powis Castle near Welshpool in Wales and I was inspired by an invitation to visitors to write down their Christmas traditions on a cardboard label and tie to a Christmas tree to ask friends a similar question: what is your Christmas Eve tradition? Here are the answers (not tied on to a Christmas tree though).
Me: We have a number of Christmas Eve traditions such as attend the Crib Service at the Abbey in town in the late afternoon and come home to crumpets and hot chocolate.
Me: One from my childhood, or teenagehood at least, thanks to my mum, was to open just one present in the evening. It also became tradition that I cooked tea for my mum and me (usually something quite simple).
Me: I also always used to spend some of Christmas Eve with my best friend at her house. I seem to remember her family always got their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve as well from the same farm every year.
Friend One: We chuck reindeer food (porridge and glitter) all over the garden!
Friend Two: Ditto the reindeer food also a Christmas Eve box for my daughter containing new pjs, hot choc sachet, marshmallows, chocolate to eat and a dvd.
Friend Three: My Christmas Eve tradition is going to work: after all it’s a waste of a day of leave to take if off, nothing gets done all day and you invariably leave early. Would you like a photo of me at work?
Friend Four: In Denmark we eat our dinner on the 24th. Then we dance around the tree while singing 6-7 Christmas songs before opening the presents. It’s nerve wrecking as a child!
Friend Five: We have a special Christmas Eve breakfast, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, yum yum and then one present before bed, which is a pair of pyjamas for everyone in the house, which have to be worn to bed, and a Christmas book for the kids! Then put out a glass of port, a carrot and a mince pie for Father Christmas.
Friend Six: We go to my parent’s house for supper which is always soup served in bread bowls. Then when we get home, we all open one present containing pajamas. Everyone puts on their new pjs and we pop popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
Friend Seven: We do new pjs on Christmas Eve and this year we’re giving a game (some years we might do a Christmas DVD) so we’ll all be playing pop up pirate in our new pjs this year! When I was younger we were always allowed to open one present on Christmas Eve after we’d been to mass, which became midnight mass as we all got a bit older and there was something really magical about midnight mass and the choir singing carols.
Friend Eight: We go to the pub with family and friends for a buffet, then to a carol service followed by also making reindeer food. We then watch a Christmas film and always read ‘the night before Christmas’ story in bed.
Friend Nine: I always get my dog a prezzie at Christmas (Dad’s tradition) and I always watch nightmare before xmas on Christmas Eve.
Friend Ten: The only thing that goes on in our house is the leaving if mince pie, whiskey and carrots for Santa and his reindeers. Mainly because we don’t celebrate ‘Christmas’ but honor the Santa fantasy.
Friend Elven: We always let the boys exchange gifts on Christmas Eve. They love opening that one present on Christmas Eve.
Friend Twelve : Ours is 5.30 mass followed by chip shop chips on the way home.
Friend Thirteen: At my boyfriend’s we drink alcohol and play a card game called stop the bus for money and then we go to the pub for a few.
Friend Fourteen: We have never had a tradition other than rushing across the waves to make it home for Christmas. This year we may be starting a tradition……. Sofa, onesies, chilli peanuts and wine with a scary movie.
My mum: Christmas tree and decorations put up on Christmas Eve I thought the tree was wonderful but it was little very battered artificial one about 2 foot high ( I have still got it). It was also not Christmas until my mother sang ‘Away in the Manger’ and no presents opened until the washing was done after dinner.
Friend Fifteen: We used to have a friends whose tradition was to drive round old friends on Christmas Even carol singing, it was always lovely to see them and for us the start of proper Christmas. This has stopped as everyone lives further apart etc which is sad.
This year we have made an effort to start our own tradition so we went to the carol service, came home all helped cook a big casserole for supper then I made up a box with new slippers, PJs and sweets for all. Now snuggled up watching tv with half a eye on Santa’s progress via the internet.
Friend Sixteen: We have done the first one got pjs from nanny and bak bak. Now tea of ham mash potatoes peas and parsley sauce.