Do you have any special Christmas traditions at your workplace or at home?
We don’t have any unique Christmas tradition here at Vita Canis HQ, as it is only our second Christmas together.
But here we are, sharing our Christmas traditions at home from our childhood.
When I lived in Slovakia, we celebrated Christmas on 24th December. My younger brother Ferko and I had the big task of decorating Christmas trees and not eating any food to see “a golden piglet”. How came this tradition?
Christmas was always connected with fasting; only the ill, elderly, and very small children could have some food. Ages ago, some parents tried to motivate their children to keep them fasting, so they told them they would see a golden piglet. Of course, children knew how piglets looked like, but golden ones?? All the kids wanted to see one. I can’t remember seeing one, but I was one of those kids who liked to pinch cake or fruit or piece of chocolate. Well, I am still the same.
Decorating the tree and watching old fairy tales kept us occupied for most of the morning up to midday. My mum was busy cooking the evening feast. The meal usually consisted of a thin waffle with garlic and honey. It might be a strange combination, but it was mega tasty and had a strong meaning. It symbolized the most important values: health, kindness, sincerity, and prosperity.
Then we would have fish and mushroom soup. Some families cooked lentil soup or cabbage soup. After the starters, we had the main meal—usually, fried breaded carp with a special potato salad. We also had a selection of cakes and fruit. Mum was a great baker, and she would make around 13-15 different Christmas cakes. She would divide a lot between all family and friends who didn’t like to bake.
Some fascinating traditions on the day: we couldn’t do or hang any washing, we couldn’t get up from the table during the meal, meal (and lot of it) was always served in the evening, we unwrapped our presents in the evening after the meal and prayer, we kept the scale from carp in a wallet for prosperity, we used to eat lots of nuts too for prosperity.
First of all, Christmas presents were brought by baby Jesus, not by Santa ( we haven’t heard from Santa, as he wasn’t allowed behind the iron curtain). Saying that baby Jesus was kind of tolerated, and it felt like the government tried to replace him with Dedo Mraz – Santa’s look-alike, just coming from the East. Well, that was my view as a child. Early age, I realised my parents had bought all the prezzies. I used to look for them from the beginning of December. I got so excited when I found some, and then disappointed on Christmas day (24th December) when I found out they were for my sister.
There were also other hidden treasures! Like dried figs, almonds, raisins, dates, salted peanuts, special chocolates … especially bought by my mum for Christmas. And we couldn’t touch them till Christmas day. And surprise, surprise, we respected it. We knew they were not easy to get; we knew she had to cue for them (and for bananas, kiwis, grapes…), or she got it secretly from a friend who had a friend, who knew a friend who worked in a grocery shop.
Christmas shopping wasn’t easy!
We have never been religious, but we liked Christmas. We spent pretty much all day decorating our Christmas tree and getting ready for the evening. We didn’t fast; we didn’t pray, we enjoyed our dinner – a lot of it; then we unwrapped our prezzies after dinner, then we played games or watched telly while nibbling on all the nuts, fruit, gingerbread, and cakes. I also liked Christmas because we could stay up as long as we wanted!
And what did we have for dinner? Sour kraut soup, fried breaded carp with a zillion of bones ( later in our lives replaced by salmon), and a potato salad – which I still make every year. And when I went vegetarian as a teenager, my mum would make me a special sour kraut soup with no pork, so I didn’t feel left behind. And I’m still very grateful for that.
What are your Christmas traditions at home?