On Traditions

Nothing says tradition more than Christmas and New Year time. Turnip Casserole for Christmas dinner table if you are in Finland. 12 grapes to be eaten when the year turns if you are in Spain.  Throwing furniture out of the window if you are in Italy (note to self – never go to Italy for New Year Night). Crazy Christmas shopping  if you are in the U.S.  Crazy fireworks in China to scare off the evil during Chinese New Year celebrations.

While all these things seem funny, weird or just an entertainment if you are a foreigner, for each and every one of us these things are an important part of our identification, even if we don’t realize it or deny it. It gets even more interesting when you lived through the change of epochs (like my parents’ generation who lived to see the Communist regime collapse) or if  – like myself – you consider more than one country your home.

I noticed that as I grow older, I start paying more attention and giving more meaning to the traditions around holidays. Having lived in 3 countries since I was born, I also noticed this year what a mix of traditions I observe – and enjoy it! Most of them are revolving around the food subject 🙂 To list a few:

  1. I roast a turkey every Thanksgiving just like Americans do. I didn’t go to the cranberry jam and bread crumbs stuffing level yet though.
  2. I bake piparkakut  (cinnamon cookies) and drink Glögg (mulled wine)
    around December 24, just like Finns do.IMG_6564
  3. I put Christmas decoration on my front door in December. My husband does not approve wreaths, so I have to be creative.
  4. I cook for two days non stop before the New Year Night. Just like Ukrainians do. The food is very far from clean eating that I normally practice during the year, but it reminds me of my childhood.
  5. I take a shower at midnight on January 19 – just as they do in Ukraine, to wash off all the bad things from the past year before the Orthodox Epiphany.
  6. My favorite one – as it goes back hundred years in my family: for Orthodox Christmas I am baking a meat pie with a coin in it. Whoever gets the coin, will have the best of luck all year round. We eat the pie slowly, not to worry:)
  7. I don’t do chocolate eggs or bunnies for Catholic Easter, but I bake Easter bread for Orthodox Easter, using the slightly modified recipe from my great-grandmother.

Every time I do this, it makes my heart warm. I feel very connected to the people and the times, and this connection is to cherish. I really want my future kids to incorporate all these and add more to the list, as things like these make your life taste fuller.

What are the traditions you observe?

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