Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Traditions; First Year with a Nativity

As Christmas is only a few days away I've been trying to figure out just what Christmas traditions we're going to be doing to sort of make up for last year since we didn't celebrate anything from the last Father's Day (June 2009) we had my dad until my 25th birthday this year. Unfortunately, we were still in mourning and kind of numb to everything last Christmas so there was no celebrating. This year, however, I've been on a mission to celebrate Advent and Christmas properly. Being Mexican, Spanish, Irish, and Italian I have a lot of traditions that I'm trying to incorporate into our humble celebrations this year.

First off, with the help of my confessor, Fr. Peter, we were finally able to convince mom to get a Nativity scene. Yes, you read that right: we didn't have one until last week. Actually, we had one when I was growing up but it got broken/thrown away/lost when I was about 7 years old. We haven't even had a Christmas tree since I was that age as well. My parents weren't/aren't anti-Christmas but for some reason we just didn't really celebrate it aside from some presents (though I didn't always get those because I've asked for no presents for a number of years) and the occasional Mass. As I said, things are going to change this year.

The main thing behind my plans is that we remember one important thing: Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and the hope that gives the world. The Nativity, though quite small, in the living room was the first step. As mom and I are still growing in our faith (and I don't think we ever stop growing with in comes to the love we feel for God), it was important for us that this (as well as the Advent wreath and candles at the beginning of Advent) were the first things that were taken care of. Since I've been stuck in bed (and indoors) for the past 5 days, both due to being sick and due to the torrential rain, I haven't been able to put the other plans into action just yet. Hey, I have 2 more days and most of what I need involves going grocery shopping and cooking/baking so I am not behind schedule. ;)

We have one new tradition, inspired by my paternal grandmother's side of the family, which I have ready but I won't have up until Christmas Eve. In Ireland there is a tradition of lighting a candle and placing it in the windowsill on Christmas Eve. It is said that this was done to symbolize a welcome to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph on their search for shelter. Tradition says that the light is to be lit by the youngest member of the family, which is me in this household as it's just mom and I. Tradition also says that the candle should be extinguished only by someone in the family named Mary but the last Mary we had was my late paternal grandmother so we'll have to assign this to either a guest (since we've had family members unexpectedly stop by) or my mom turn it off. Yes, "turn it off" since we will have an LED candle on the window. Since we live in an apartment, and the manager would have a cow if we lit an actual candle overnight, we'll have to settle for one that we can get away with. :D

I will spend Christmas Eve baking. I've never tried to make a pandoro (an Italian sweet bread; a nod to my maternal grandmother's part of the family) but I guess this weekend is as good as any to try. We may buy a Mexican Rosca (different style from the Spanish and Portuguese versions) but those are usually pretty expensive and too big for us. I would attempt to bake it by myself for Christmas but I may not have enough time with all the other things planned. I'll save the attempt for the Epiphany in which, once again, our heritage will help us celebrate. I will save those celebrations for another post though. ;) I also have other plans that involve food but not for ourselves. I enjoy giving for more than receiving... and my friends can attest to my specific instructions for no presents both on Christmas and my birthday (though I'm rarely listened to.)

I will try to go to Midnight Mass this year though I will have to go by myself as my mother has to work on Christmas and her shift starts at 5 in the morning. (There is no rest for those who work in hospitals.) If not, I will at least be tuning in to the Solemn Mass of Christmas Eve with Pope Benedict XVI via EWTN (online as Time Warner Cable is greedy and took my channels away) and then attending Mass on Christmas morning.

I'm always curious to hear others' Christmas traditions so please share if you'd like in the comment section! :D

Alright, I have a lot to do as I'm a couple days behind on the annual clean-a-thon (those reading this blog long enough will know what I'm talking about) and I need to start getting the last phases on my plans in motion. :D

OH! And if you haven't already: please vote for the patron saint of this blog for the coming year. At the moment, St. Therese of Lisieux is in the lead with 10 points followed by Mary Undoer of Knots and St. Gemma Galgani tied for second with 8 votes each, and Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin, St. Raphael Archangel, and St. Thomas Aquinas tied for third with 7 points each. Last year it really came down to the last day of voting for St. Cecilia to win so your vote still counts. Only 9 more days of voting left! :D

As always, thanks for reading and God Bless!


K. Suzanne said...

I'm going to write in St. Josemaría Escrivá as my vote for next year's saint. :) You can read his writings all free online here:

Emmy Cecilia said...

Do it! Thanks to a friend, I've been looking into the Opus Dei. Also helps that our incoming Archbishop is also Opus Dei so I'm doing more research. :D

Miss Hiracheta said...

enjoyed learning about your traditions! Kudos to yall for your work to rebuild Christmas traditions. God bless your mother and those working in hospitals!!! Pandoro looks SO yummy!! ours: family midnight mass, Lord of the Rings marathon, visiting w/ family members who drop by, 'presentation' of our baby Jesus 1 & 2--1 cute baby statue, life-sized and Infant of Prague child statue--travel them out of the bedrooms and move to central locations. of course, some simple feasting.

Miss Hiracheta said...

also to mention a few more...we used to go to the Posadas or try to host a night. (Posadas is an enriching experience if ever have an opportunity to participate, its a reenactment of the Nativity story in a novena ) We don't anymore, but its an unforgettable experience and a big part of the Hispanic culture down here in South Texas. Also special is we sometimes bake a cake and sing happy b-day to the baby Jesus asking him to bless us. We are convinced the Baby Jesus loves chocolate best (thought I read it somewhere in a book....)

Emmy Cecilia said...

I'm part Mexican with a family who faithfully does Posadas in Mexico so I know exactly what you're talking about. :)

Miss Hiracheta said...

just wasn't sure--you have such a rich nationality, I think I am only Mexican and Spanish as far as I know. plus, sometimes i wonder how different each area of the U.S. is. here i was, preaching to the choir :}

Anonymous said...

I've been Catholic my whole life and I've never known about the significance of the candle in the window. I've seen people put them in their windows (as have I) but I didn't realize there was a tradition behind it!

Cheryl Doyle-Ruffing said...

Hi Emmy,

I found your blog through Patrick Madrid's. I've skimmed your posts about transferring or staying. I have a couple of questions and a couple of book suggestions for you to consider (perhaps over Christmas break).

1. Why are you going to college? What is the goal? A Job? Personal edification? A means to finding your vocation?

2. Why are you planning on going to grad. school? The job? The edification? The vocation?

3. Do you really need the degrees (undergrad and/or grad) to reach your goals?

4. How much debt are you taking on? Is the debt you'll be saddled with worth it? For instance, will you be able to get a job making enough to money to justify the expense of your education?

5. Why are you finishing college? Just to get it over and done with? Is that a good enough reason to spend that much money? Don't you owe yourself and your future more than that?

6. Are you finishing out of fear? Remember, fear is not from God.

7. Have you looked into jobs you could get now to support yourself while you decide what you really want to do? Could you get a translator's job w/out a degree?

Book suggestions: A Thomas Jefferson Education for Teens by Oliver DeMille and Shannon Brooks.
Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey.

Blog post recommendations for a change of perspective:

A little bit about me: I'm a cradle Catholic who got a degree in English from St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH. I worked as a reporter for "The Denver Catholic Register" for a year-and-a-half, until my first child was born. He is now 14 and has five siblings, ages 18 mos. to 12 years. I homeschool the ones old enough. Reading Dave Ramsey's works and researching education (especially Leadership Education) has made me seriously question the wisdom of spending so much money on a college degree. By the by, I've also dealt w/anxiety attacks. I urge you to seriously reconsider your options.

SLJubilee said...


I have read your blog over the holiday and find that you have courage and a love of truth. It is especially sad when professors at a Catholic institution do not believe in the power of God nor respect Authority.

Then again, I am one who believes that many of the Bible stories could be more true than what is commonly taught - that view does not go very far in educated Catholic circles!