Celebrating more than one December festival - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 11-23-2008, 10:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi,

I will give you some background first. I am British and I live in the Netherlands with my Dutch DH. In the Netherlands, most children get most of their 'December' presents in shoes on December 5 from Saint Nicolas or Black Peter. In Britain, they get them in socks on December 25 from Father Christmas. We usually celebrate on December 5 with DH's family and go to my family for Christmas. This year we are not going to my family and may spend Christmas with DH's family.

I am now really fed up with the whole presents thing. DS1 and DS2 are rigid with excitement for December 5 and are eating/sleeping badly. I really have no wish to extend the excitement until December 25. However, I feel that it is part of my culture to have gifts on December 25.

I have wondered about giving my children an orange, some chocolate coins, a pair of socks and perhaps a book in a sock on December 25, but not announcing it before hand.

Has anyone been in a similar situation? How have you dealt with it?

Mama to DS1 and DS2
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#2 of 9 Old 11-23-2008, 12:26 PM
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We're in a similar (but opposite) position, I guess. We live in the US where of course those who celebrate Christmas usually give gifts on the December 25th. Because that is what they talk about at pre-school, that is what DD is expecting. Dh, on the other hand, is from a country where December 25th is not a holiday. His Christmas is in January (Orthodox), and it is not a gift giving holiday. Instead, Father Frost comes on New Years eve and brings all the gifts.

I think what we will do is go ahead and give dd gifts on December 25, and then for New Years and Orthodox Christmas we will just try to do something special and festive. Maybe a day trip somewhere nice, a special dinner, etc.

To be honest, I am not all that attached to the idea of gift-giving being the focus of holidays. To me, a holiday is when families spend time together doing something special that they wouldn't ordinarily do on another day. So in our endless multicultural negotiation I think that is what we will try to continue to focus on.

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#3 of 9 Old 11-27-2008, 02:08 AM
 
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We do a lot of celebrating in December...
I'm Jewish, DP is Catholic.
What we generally do is give the "big" gifts for Winter Solstace/Yule, since the solstace is pretty universal and not religious. We started this tradition before DS came along. (So far, for DS they haven't been that thrilling... his first year it was a baby gate for around the fireplace, I don't remember the second year, last year it was a $30 train set and this year will likely be his twin bed.)
We light candles for Chanukah. On the first night, we give DS a few small gifts, including clothes, CDs and maybe a DVD.
For Christmas, "Santa" brings small gifts such as matchbox cars, and books, and some sweets including a little candy, an orange and nuts.
Our extended families celebrate separately with us - we go to the IL's on Christmas day and DS gets gifts on that day from grandparents, aunts, uncles.
We get together separately with my mom and dad during Dec or early Jan to celebrate Chanukah. then, later in Jan we get together with my mom's extended family, but it's only barely connected to Chanukah at that point - but the gifts are generally wraped in blue and silver.

DS is African American, so I'm sort of working Kwanza into the mix, but very, very slowly at this point.
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#4 of 9 Old 11-27-2008, 02:29 PM
 
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I am from the Eastern part of France so we celebrate St Nicolas with a small gift, chocolate coins, an orange and many manneles.

http://cannelleetcacao.typepad.com/m...1/mannele.html

And, since we live in the US, we give the kids a few more gifts for Christmas.
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#5 of 9 Old 11-27-2008, 03:36 PM
 
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We have St Nick's day with stockings. It's kind of to pay homage to my European upbringing.

Then we celebrate the Winter Solstice, as that is my religious holiday.

Then Christmas with the grandmothers because they are Catholic.

We also do Advent but it's slightly different than the traditional countdown-to-Christmas deal. The dates and symbolism are different but we kept many of the traditions from my Catholic childhood.

If that all seems like overkill, we also have two New Year's - one on Jan 1st and one on Feb 2nd!

ETA: St Nick's day we do chocolate, oranges, nuts, and a couple of stocking stuffers. Little things. I have an "I Spy" bag for DS, a Matchbox car, and two small board books. The main draw of the day is that we decorate for the holiday season on that day. Bring out the music and lights and poinsettias, etc. Solstice we have a holiday meal and candle lighting but no presents. Christmas we exchange the rest of the presents (mostly bought by the grandmothers).
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#6 of 9 Old 11-28-2008, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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To be honest, I am not all that attached to the idea of gift-giving being the focus of holidays.
Yes, I agree on that, but it is part of it, for me at least.

Mama to DS1 and DS2
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#7 of 9 Old 11-28-2008, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am from the Eastern part of France so we celebrate St Nicolas with a small gift, chocolate coins, an orange and many manneles.
I didn't know that it was celebrated in France. I thought that it was only celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium down to the language border. I do know that something similar is celebrated in Marokko. A saint leaves sweets and things in children's shoes.

Manneles sound tasty! In the Netherlands people eat pepernoten, chocolate letters and marzipan in shapes like you can see here.

Mama to DS1 and DS2
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#8 of 9 Old 11-28-2008, 03:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamadaan View Post
I didn't know that it was celebrated in France. I thought that it was only celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium down to the language border. I do know that something similar is celebrated in Marokko. A saint leaves sweets and things in children's shoes.
It's in Eastern/Central Europe too. I'm from Hungary.
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#9 of 9 Old 11-28-2008, 09:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamadaan View Post
I didn't know that it was celebrated in France. I thought that it was only celebrated in the Netherlands and Belgium down to the language border. .
It is celebrated in Alsace and Lorraine. (northeast frontier of France)
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