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What are your family’s Christmas traditions?

Christmas present in front of a Christmas tree

If there’s anything I’m fiercely protective of, it’s my family’s Christmas traditions. And when I started asking around the office, I found I wasn’t the only one who clings on to tradition throughout the holidays.

As a kid, I always assumed my Christmas Days were just like everyone else’s. But when I told my friends at school that I had to wait until after dinner in the evening to open my presents, there were gasps of sympathy all round.

It wasn’t all bad – I’d always be greeted by a ‘stocking’ (a pillow-case) of smaller presents in the morning, which I’d dutifully empty onto my parents bed. The rest of the day was spent with the family (no TV allowed) while a magnificent Turkey roast would be served up in the early evening.

Presents soon followed, and we’d be made to sit and watch everyone open each of their presents one at a time. This certainly made the best bit last longer, but in my younger years, it bordered on agonising.

A stocking-full of Christmas traditions

I asked around the office to find out if my colleagues had any Christmas traditions of their own:

charlotte-headshot-croppedCharlotte Slayford: Some of my favourite childhood memories involve preparing Santa’s traditional mince pie and glass of ‘wine’. This involved pouring a glass of neat blackcurrant squash into a cup. We’d then find it  hysterically funny to ask my parents if Santa enjoyed his wine!

Christmas morning would involve jumping on each other’s beds to wake each other up in the morning. We’d approach this in age order: so I’d wake my older brother, then together we’d wake my middle sister, and then the three of us would wake up our older siblings. Then all five of us would jump on my parent’s bed to wake them up.

kbenson-avatarKatie Benson: When I was young, my sister and I would wait at the bottom of the stairs on Christmas morning until my parents allowed us into the living room to see the presents under the tree.

Before we were allowed to unwrap them, we would have breakfast together. And then we would wait for my dad to get ready. And then we had to wait for him to call his mum to say merry Christmas. Finally, we were allowed to open the presents! After all these years, we still wind my dad up on Christmas morning asking him if he’s ready yet!

patrick6-avatarPatrick Steen: How does Christmas Day go down in Paddy’s household? For a start, I’m out of the big smoke and back to the New Forest with my family. The morning starts with stockings, filled lovingly by Santa (mum) with trinkets, toothbrushes and deodorant (I’m not sure what she’s trying to tell me). Me and my brother have giant hand-knitted festive stockings from our childhood, while we fill two of my mum’s socks due to her tiny size-three feet.

Then comes Christmas dinner, confusingly served at lunch time. My tradition is always the same – get my brother and mum to peel the veg while I get my hands on the turkey. Opening our larger presents comes after we’ve gorged ourselves but before the Queen entertains grandpa with her Speech. And no we didn’t watch her in 3D this year: I’m not sure what that would do to my heart, let alone my grandpa’s.

Trying new traditions

As much as I love my family traditions, we’re having to adapt as our family grows to include grandchildren, husbands and partners. Invariably our traditions will morph into new ones and my sister, who now has children herself, is starting to develop her own.

Do you have any Christmas traditions you’re loath to let go of? Or have you started any festive traditions of your own?


My grandfather always had pork pie for Christmas breakfast with a little cheese, toast and a drop of rum in his tea. This tradition was continued by my father and now my three grown up children are following the tradition although they often don’t get up until midday is essential that it is a traditional Melton Mowbray pork pie, fluted pastry with good jelly and most important uncured pork ( cured pork filling is pink – not right). The dash of rum in the tea makes the day special as well.

We always go down the pub at lunchtime!

My reasons for dropping Chrismas traditions may be rather strange to some, but it was way back in the sixties when the Catholic Church dropped the traditional Latin Mass, and as far as I was concerned, it was nothing more than any of the other churches. I dropped Catholicism altogether, and wtih it went the Chrismas traditions. Now, Chirstmas means nothing more than a drop of drink, and maybe the odd present, possibly not wrapped, and the odd phone calls to friends and family. I find this better and more personal than sending Emails with a Christmas message.