Weird Question Weekly
In the spirit of getting to know your bloggers better, we will be answering a string of sometimes serious, sometimes silly questions in the coming weeks. Please feel free to ask us something in the comments. We want to tell you what you’d like to know!
This week’s question: How do you celebrate the winter holiday?
Joana: I personally love to stay at home and warm up with a cup of hot cacao and the central heating (when it’s on, that is). I have never spent Christmas eve, Christmas day or Boxing day away from home, but I often travel abroad with my family for New Year’s. I visit my grandma during break and stay almost for the entirety of the two weeks that I’m away from school. My favorite pastimes, except for sleeping, eating, and cooking, are reading and writing; many a great novels have been started in winter. When it comes to actual celebration, since we’re Christian Orthodox we’re typically supposed to fast for forty days before Christmas, including on Christmas eve, when my gran and I go all out on cooking a vegan meal. There have to be 7, 9 or 11 dishes at the table. Then, on Christmas day, we go all-out on non-vegan meals, and on presents. However, snow is always the best part; if there’s no snow I don’t feel the celebrations complete, so have your fingers crossed for me!
Emily: For as long as I can remember, my family celebrates “velija” (“vigil” in Slovak), or Christmas Eve dinner, around my Grammy’s table to enjoy an entirely Slovak meal. We break the oplatky (Christmas wafers) and snack on mushroom soup before eating the homemade pierogies (pirohys), kapushniki (sourkraut pizza), bobalki (popyseed doughballs), holubky (meat stuffed cabbage), and end withkolachi (nut or poppyseed rolls) for dessert. This is my favorite meal of the entire year – it is so truly ethnic and special that I never want to miss it. The rest of the holiday, we celebrate the overwhelming amount of December and January birthdays in my family, prepare for major family mingling, and let out our belts after the cookie exchange (a NEPA tradition, I just found out). It is an exciting and food-filled week for sure!
Kara: Coming from an odd mix of ethnic backgrounds, chiefly Irish, my family has created it’s own set of Yuletide traditions, culled from books and cultures around the world. Our Winter Holidays begin on the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, which was the pre-christian Winter festival. Usually, this is the day when my family decorates our tree, and we spend it playing games and wrapping presents. Often, we also make this day electricity-free, turning off all our gadgets and even the lights, and spending the evening telling stories around the fire with lots of candles to brighten the dark night. Christmas and New Years we celebrate much like most families. Before Christmas we spend days cooking big feasts and decorating everything in sight. We have lots of aunt and uncles over on Christmas, and, in homage to Harry Potter, we always have Christmas crackers. After Christmas, we celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas, which are the time between the end of the Solar Year (the Solstice), and the end of the Lunar Year (Twelfth Night). These days we spend trying to eat all the treats we’ve baked, playing games, and reading. Reading Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has been a tradition in our family since I was about five. I know it so well I can pretty much recite it at this point, but we still read it anyways. On Twelfth Night, we always watch or read Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, and after that it’s time to get back to regular days, and get ready for school again!