Christmas Traditions

This Sunday will mark what is likely the best day of the year for most of us. Christmas Day. Of course, if your family is like mine, celebrating Christmas has become more of a logistics problem to be solved. Many of us have one celebration with our side of the family and then another one with our spouse’s side of the family. And then we need time to have a celebration with our own children. And if you have extended family nearby there may be multiple other celebrations to attend. Then there are the “company” parties to attend and also several church functions.

And if you happen to belong to a blended family, then you can add other layers to the holiday. This is not to complain—this is only to remind that our celebration of Christmas covers way more territory than just the 25th of December.

How do you celebrate at your house? Does food play a big role? It does around my family. I saw an article this week about how certain other cultures celebrate the holiday with regard to food. For instance, in Japan—where only 1% of the people are Christian, it has become a quirky tradition to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken. No kidding. This tradition began in the mid-seventies following an aggressive ad campaign.  It has now become so popular that you must make reservations months in advance.  

How about the Philippines? There they take a de-boned chicken and stuff it with Spam, Edam cheese, and canned Vienna sausage.  

In Poland there is the Wigilia or “star supper”—an extravagant 12-course banquet of dumplings, herring in wine sauce, and much more.  

In the Provence region of France many families concoct 13 different desserts representing Christ and the 12 apostles.

In Italy we find the Festa dei Sette Pesci—the feast of the 7 fishes. It is a “meat-free” fast held on Christmas Eve to symbolize the wait for the birth of the Holy Child. Why 7? Could be the number of days in Creation or maybe representing the 7 sacraments o0f the Roman Catholic Church. No one is sure.

My favorite comes from Greenland and it’s called “Kiviac”. This is a unique dish created by taking a bunch of seabirds known as little auks and stuffing them into a hollowed out sealskin—beaks, feathers and all. That rubbery package is then sewn up and shoved under a rock where it ferments and disintegrates for up to 18 months before being dug up and served straight from the seal. The resulting mush is said to have the flavor of an especially pungent Gorgonzola cheese.

KFC isn’t sounding all that bad, is it?

However you and your loved ones celebrate the holiday, don’t forget to do it in the spirit of love that led to the holiday in the beginning—For Unto Us A Child Is Born.