Tag Archives: christmas traditions

Christmas has arrived early this year

Christmas has arrived early at my place. With everything going on this past year and the cranky mood I’ve been in lately, I’ve decided I needed a little cheer in my life. And so, last night I went through my many boxes of Christmas decorations that I inherited from my parent’s collection, and I got out my tiny tree. It’s a work in progress.

The key is to make sure all the lights are in working order before decorating the tree. One of the strands burned out last year and so I have to order in a new one. I was hoping to remove these lights and use mixed color lighting this year, but this was a prelit tree and it’s going to take some work to remove them. So, perhaps I will wait until the white lights die out.

Ignore the mismatched colors. I’ll be fixing that once I get to the store. I’ve been checking Amazon for some hooks that I can use to hang lights on the fireplace without damage and Command hooks were suggested to me. I’m also on the hunt for inexpensive garland to wrap around the fireplace. And maybe some LED candles. I’ve been pretty careful about money the past couple of months and so, I feel I deserve a little pick me up. The little tree does light up – I just need to put batteries into it. And all the decorations you see on my fireplace, were either from my parent’s house or gifted to me by my mother.

Precious Moments

I love Precious Moments figurines. My mum was hooked on these back in the early 2000s. I don’t remember when she gifted me this little set, but I’ve had it for nearly forever. I have a few other pieces that I need to find a home for, including an angel and Christmas star. I have quite a few ornaments from this series too and think my theme for my tree this year will be a very Precious Moments kind of tree.

Taken in 2012, playing around with macro photos.

This is my fave – Tinker Bell

Christmas Memories

Christmas was my mother’s favorite holiday. I mean, she loved all the holidays, but she shined at Christmas time. She’d spend most of December in the kitchen baking meat tarts, pies, Yule logs, meringues and other delicious treats. As kids, we’d gather with neighbours to spread cheer around the neighbourhood and sing carols. Then we’d head back to our house for hot chocolate and dessert.

As a Danish kid, we’d celebrate Christmas Eve with my dad’s family and then we’d host Christmas Day with mum’s family. At least until the family got too big and my generation started having kids. Now we only see the aunts and uncles at special events.

The house was decorated early in December and mum would spend hours perfecting the tree until she became too ill to do it herself. Then my sister took over with her kids. And after mum died, and dad fell ill, she got him a table top tree so he could still have a bit of Christmas cheer in the house.

Oh, how I miss Christmas at home. More than anything, I’d love to have just one more family dinner there. But sadly, we no longer own the house. It was sold last year.

This was one of the last trees my sister decorated before switching to the table top tree. And yes, those chairs may look familiar as they’re in my living room now. I cannot express how hard it was to let go of this house. My family wanted me to buy it – but it was way too much upkeep for one person – and money too. I have a feeling mum is still there. It was her dream home. And she used to joke that she would find a way to stay there forever.

After we moved dad out of the house, we started celebrating Christmas at my sister’s home. She loves to celebrate and her husband enjoys cooking. They do a turkey every Christmas day, and we all bring dishes for a family potluck. We stopped buying gifts for everyone a few years back. Instead we do a gift exchange of one gift for all the adults. I’ve learned to buy something I like and no one else would want. It’s what they all do!

My sister has a beautiful home. I was just there on the weekend and spent most of the day with her family. It was a nice visit. We also got my dad out for his birthday too.

Danish Christmas

Every year for the past 15 years, I have played the organ at the church for the Christmas services. The Danish celebrate Christmas on the 24th so it is always a busy day. We have two services. Before the pandemic, we would have a Christmas party and then a turkey dinner. We’d also go caroling as a group and sing funny Danish Christmas songs. But sadly, all that has been cancelled since 2020. It’s something I’m really missing this year.

One year, the church was so cold upstairs, that we had to move the service to the basement on Christmas morning. We had a small group but it was a memorable day and I got to play the piano for the service. I don’t talk about the church often here. Religion is not part of my life. But I’m there for the music and community. And to learn more about my Danish heritage. It’s important to me. I’ve cut back on services and will eventually reduce that to one service a month.

Christmas Decor

Every year we would have a party where the kids would decorate the tree with handmade paper decorations which is a long time honoured Danish tradition. I really want to make some decorations this year. Where I’m going to hang them is another question.

Last year, I bought a $40 four foot tree from Michaels. I hadn’t had a tree in a few years due to the mice and said to heck with it. I wanted a tree. I was going to buy a bigger tree this year, but meh. This tree is still works for now.

Christmas 2020

Christmas warms my hearts

I have no idea what’s is going on for Christmas this year. But I thought decorating early might perk up my spirits. I made the mistake of listening to some Christmas music on YouTube yesterday and I wound up crying at the emotional performances. This time of year always makes me a bit sentimental. I miss my mum. I miss our house. But I guess that’s part of life. Things change. You grow. You adapt. And now Christmas for me, is wherever dad and my family happen to be.

I do know that I want to decorate my new home and bring some merry cheer into my life. I’m going to work on new music videos for YouTube, and will get started early on baking. And of course, there’s my special little Christmas dinner that I do for myself every year.

Christmas Time

What’s your favorite part about the Christmas season? Do you celebrate Christmas where you are? And what are your family traditions? I’ll be sharing more stories as the season draws closer. I love the lights, the trees, the music – all of it.

If you love Christmas as much as I do, please follow my blog!

Merry Winter Solstice! Midwinter celebrations and the Star of Bethlehem

Today is a special day for many reasons. It’s December 21 also known as a very old traditional celebration called Winter Solstice. Many people around the world associate Solstice celebrations with Wiccans or Pagans. But the origins of Solstice dates even further back in history. Many believe that Winter Solstice began with the Roman Empire but truth be told, it’s much older than that!

So, instead of whining about migraines which I still have three weeks later, I’m going to share with you what I know about this special day.

What is Winter Solstice?

In short form, winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and has the longest night. It’s 3:30 pm as I write this and the sun has already started to set. It’s been a cloudy day which makes it appear even darker. The word solstice means twice each year. The longest day of the year is celebrated in June – Summer Solstice.

But what makes today special is that it’s a warm day. And not only that -but this is also the very first year you can also see the Star of Bethlehem since 1226.

Winter Solstice Origins

The earliest recorded observations of Winter Solstice started around 10,200 B.C. This is also known as the stone age. The stone age is defined as an era where early humans used stone as their main tools in daily life.

The infamous tourist site, Stonehenge, is thought to be a place of worship and ritual for the stone age people. It is believed that Stonehenge and similar structures around the world, were used as a calendar of sorts to mark the beginning end of seasons. This calendar would be have been a useful tool for the farmer’s planting and harvesting crops.

Other notable landmarks include the Newgrange in Ireland and Maeshow in Scotland that are also aligned with the sun.

The Roman Empire

In ancient Rome, celebrations were held around December 21 to honour their “chief god” – Sol Invictus, also known as the “Unconquered Sun.” According to historians, on December 25 AD 274, Emperor Aurelian made this an official religion. However it seems that the origin of this religion is widely debated among scholars today.

Saturnalia, was a holiday to honour the god of agriculture also known as Saturn. These celebrations were held the week before winter solstice.

Ancient Romans celebrated the holiday by closing down businesses, schools and courts. Decorations were hung in homes which included handmade wreaths, mistletoe and berries. They also indulged in gambling, drinking, music, and exchanging gifts. The remarkable thing about this ancient holiday is that even the slaves were allowed to participate in celebrations and were sometimes even served by their masters.

Saturnalia by Antoine Callet.jpg
Saturnalia (1783) by Antoine Callet, showing his interpretation of what the Saturnalia might have looked like

Yuletide – Paganism

In religions such as Druidism and Paganism, Yuletide is celebrated on this day around the world. It is a mid-winter festival of joy (Jol) and tide.

For ancient Celts, Winter Solstice was one of the most significant times of the year. There are ancient monuments that can be found across Europe that have captured the impact of the sun’s rays during Winter and Summer Solstice.

Ancient Druids gathered berries and mistletoe from oak trees to place in their homes as decorations. This was seen as a Celtic religious ceremony and the oak tree was considered sacred.

Midwinter celebrations were called Alband Arthan which means “light of the bear.” For some Druids, it refers to the constellation of the Great Bear in our northern skies.

For many Pagans and Druids, the earth is worshipped much like other deities. People of ancient times would light candles and gather closely together around large campfires. They danced, sang and played instruments like drums and pan flutes.

If you want to experience a Yuletide celebration this year – light some candles, listen to some Celtic or German music and decorate your home with mistletoe and holly. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, tonight would be a perfect night to drink an Irish ale while sitting in front of a warm fire. It’s already pitch black here and it’s now only 5:00 pm as I update this post.

holly king - Google Search | Pagan yule, Yule, Winter solstice
Ancient Forest King – Icon of Old Yuletide – author unkown – from Google search

Christmas Origins

The name for Christmas was adopted from Mass of Christ. While the actual date of Jesus’ birth is unknown, scholars believed it to be on December 21 or close to it in 1000 AD. I’m not an expert on ancient history or dates, so I’ll leave it at that.

Christmas is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. It’s the celebrations, getting together with loved ones, and more importantly – the wonderful gift of music that brings us all together.

Adorazione dei Magi Gentile da Fabriano | Fabriano, Medieval art, Epiphany
Adorasione de Magie

Mid-Winter Music

This Christmas, I wanted to do something different for music. I chose some of my favorite Celtic Christmas carols and recorded them using the sounds of instruments that would have been used in ancient times. To honour this very special day, here is my cover of In the Midbleak Winter.

This album really brings out my desire to learn more about my mother’s heritage. Though she was born in England, my grandfather’s family was Irish.

How are you celebrating this most magical day? Let me know in the comments! Theology and ancient history is another passion and hobby of mine. I love researching and writing about special holidays and traditions around the world.