Mon. Dec. 9, 2019: The Joy of Mixing Holiday Traditions & Creating Your Own #upbeatauthors

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Monday, December 9, 2019
Waxing Moon
Uranus Retrograde

One of the things I loved about living in NYC and working in theatre was that we had an international community and all shared our holiday traditions.

I often joke that, for me, the holiday season starts on October 31 (Samhain/Halloween) and lasts until January 6 (Twelfth Night).

Only it’s not really a joke.

Today is December 9. Sunday, December 1 was the First of Advent. We have a table with an advent wreath, and one candle for each of the Four Advents, plus the bayberry candle at the center that is lit on Christmas Eve. We burn the candle, adding one each Advent, until we burn down all five on Christmas Eve.

We have red ribbons hanging down the sides of our doors and windows, topped with pinecones and other decorations. We fasten the cards we receive to those ribbons, so we can enjoy them all month, and have fond memories of our friends.

On the night of December 5 going into December 6, we celebrated St. Nicholas Day. We put out a shoe (a clean one, or one with a little bowl tucked in it) and in the morning, it’s filled with candy, and maybe a funny little toy. This is a tradition both my parents celebrated as children in Germany.

This upcoming Friday the 13th, we will celebrate Santa Lucia, with white candles and spicy cookies. There’s a lovely Scandinavian festival at a nearby Lutheran church, and we often attend. Sometimes, during this time, one of the Episcopalian churches in the area has a concert of Celtic harp music, which we also enjoy.

When possible, we pop into Boston to see THE NUTCRACKER. (In NYC, I saw it at NYC Ballet, where one of my friends is a dresser). If we don’t get to go and see it, at the very least, we play the music.

Over the weeks, we watch favorite holiday movies like WHITE CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MIRACLE ON 34TH ST., ELF — and often try some new ones.

On the 21st, is my biggest celebration of the season, the Winter Solstice. At sunset, we let the entire house go dark. Then, we light the fire in the fireplace. From there, we light the candles. Then, we turn on lamps and the outside lights, to welcome the turn of the wheel and the return of the Sun. It’s on a weekend, so I’ll be able to stay up through the dark night and get some sleep the next day! The following night, at sundown, Hanukkah begins. I miss celebrating it with my NYC friends.

We celebrate, German-style, more on Christmas Eve than on Christmas Day — and open our gifts on the night of Christmas Eve. Then, we settle in, Icelandic-style, and read one of our new books that night. We also burn a bayberry candle for good luck.

Christmas Day is about food and music and reading. And the stockings. We open our stockings Christmas morning — and eat panettone for breakfast.

Then comes Boxing Day. We generally rest and read and work on leftovers. And the beginning of Kwanzaa. When I lived in NYC, I joined my neighbors in their nightly Kwanzaa celebration.

I do a meditation retreat on New Year’s Eve, to start the New Year mindfully. It also means a good meal, another bayberry candle that straddles midnight, and prosecco. At a minute before midnight, we open the back door to let the old year out. At a minute after midnight, we open the front door to let the New Year in!

They don’t do First Footing out here on Cape Cod, which is a shame, because I love that tradition — right after midnight, you let in a dark-haired neighbor in the front door first, and offer a dram of whisky for luck.

New Year’s Day is about pork before noon (usually Eggs Benedict) and then a big meal later in the day. Relaxing.

I usually keep my decorations up until Twelfth Night (January 6). Most years, I have a party on Twelfth Night, no matter what day of the week that is, and then take down the decorations on the 7th. The last few years, we’ve been snowed out. I have a feeling I will take my decorations down this year on the 4th & 5th, because it’s the weekend, and I’ll have the time.

As new friends come into the mix and share their traditions, I add them in, too.

What are your favorite traditions of the season?