Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas customs USA
Debbie Petras
Writes from Phoenix, Arizona, USA

View her website: Heartchoices

My family heritage is Norwegian. Both my mother and father's parents came from Norway. So many of their Norwegian Christmas traditions became part of our family's Christmas celebrations.
I remember Christmas Eve was a special evening. We went to my grandparent's house for dinner. The tree was decorated beautifully. My grandfather took pride in the miniature village he set up under that tree. He had a train that circled around and there were little houses, a church and even a skating rink with little people.
There were always lots of wrapped gifts underneath the tree. My Nana told us that we just missed Santa. He had dropped off the gifts but had to leave so he could visit other children's homes.

We were permitted to open our presents on Christmas Eve but only ...after dinner and the dishes were washed, dried and put away. As kids, we didn't mind helping since it meant we could get to the presents faster.

During our dinner, my grandfather always took out his worn leather Bible and read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and then he prayed. Then the rest of the family would join together and say this Norwegian prayer:

I Jesu navn går vi til bordså spise, drikke på ditt ord. Deg, Gud til ære, oss til gavn, Så får vi mat i Jesu navn. Amen.The English translation is something like this: In Jesus' name to the table we go. To eat and drink according to His word. To God the honor, us the gain. So we have food in Jesus' name. Amen.

I remember all of the Norwegian cookies, cakes and other goodies we ate for dessert. I think my Nana must have baked for weeks. I loved the spritz cookies, the rice cram with chopped nuts, rosettes, the thin waffle type cookies that were rolled into a cone shape.

I remember when I was little I used to love baby dolls. At the risk of really dating myself, here's a picture of me with my new doll and carriage one Christmas. Notice the tinsel on the tree. Most people don't decorate with tinsel now but at that time it was quite common. My mom continued many of the family traditions through the years since my grandparents are no longer with us.

And now since my mom died, my sister Christine works hard to keep those traditions alive. She inherited my mother's love for cooking and uses the Norwegian American Christmas recipes to make it special and keep the memories alive.

I'm the only one who lives on the opposite side of the country so I have to work at integrating some of our family traditions with my husband's.

Η οικογένεια μου είναι Νορβηγική καταγωγής. Τόσο οι γονείς της μητέρα μου όσο και του πατέρα μου ήρθαν από τη Νορβηγία. Έτσι, πολλές από τις νορβηγικές Χριστουγεννιάτικες παραδόσεις έγιναν μέρος της Χριστουγεννιάτικων, εορταστικών μας εκδηλώσεων.

Θυμάμαι η παραμονή των Χριστουγέννων ήταν μια ξεχωριστή ημέρα. Πηγαίναμε στο σπίτι μου του παππού μου για δείπνο. Το δέντρο ήταν όμορφα διακοσμημένο. Ο παππούς μου υπερηφανευόταν για τη μινιατούρα με το χωριό του που έβαζε κάτω από το Χριστουγεννιάτικο δέντρο. Υπήρχαν διάφορα άλλα παιγνίδια κάτω από το δέντρο, ένα τρενάκι, σπιτάκια, μια εκκλησία ακόμη και ένα παγοδρόμιο με λίγα ανθρωπάκια. Υπήρχαν πάντοτε πολλά δώρα τυλιγμένα κάτω από το δέντρο.Δεν μπορούσαμε να ανοίξουμε τα δώρα μας πριν το δείπνο και αφού τελειώσει και πλυθούν τα πιάτα.
Θυμάμαι όλα της νορβηγικής προέλευσης γλυκά που τρώγαμε για επιδόρπιο. Θυμάμαι όταν ήμουν μικρή μου άρεσαν πολύ οι παιδικές κούκλες. Η μαμά μου συνέχισε πολλές από τις παραδόσεις της οικογένειας μέσα από τα χρόνια, από τότε που οι παππούδες μου δεν είναι πια μαζί μας.

Και τώρα που η μητέρα μου πέθανε, η αδερφή μου Χριστίνα προσπαθεί να κρατήσει ζωντανές τις παραδόσεις αυτές. Είμαι η μόνη που ζει στην άλλη άκρη της χώρας και προσπαθώ να εντάξω στην οικογένειάς μας κάποιες παραδόσεις με αυτές του συζύγου μου.
Ντέπυ Πέτρας
Ο σύζυγος της έχει Ελληνικές ρίζες, από όπου και το όνομα Πέτρας


islandgirl4ever2 said...

What a beautiful family!! Thanks for sharing your pics and experiences/traditions!!
Merry Christmas to you all!!

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Leesa Merry Christmas and all the best to you and your family!

Debbie Petras said...

I wrote you earlier before I saw this post. Thank you so much! You're a good friend. I wish you and your family a very special 2009. You did a fabulous job piecing this one together.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Debbie, Merry Christmas and all the very best to you and your family. You 're a good friend too!

devianty said...

What a beautiful family!!
Merry Christmas to you all!!
so nice pic...

Phivos Nicolaides said...

Devianty. Seanon's Greetings to you and your family!