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Christmas Tradition Of Different Nationalities

In The Red River Valley


Shirley Nordstrum

Junior High Division


Christmas is the day on which Christians celebrate thebirthday of Jesus Christ. No one knows exactly when Jesus was born, butsome Christians observe Christmas on December 25th.

Christmas is one of the happiest and busiest times of theyear for millions of Christians all over the world. They observe the holidaywith religious ceremonies and prayer. Many persons in the Red River Valleylook forward to happy family parties and exchanging of gifts. Christianseverywhere unite in their feelings of joy on Christ's birthday.

Now, I will describe for you the different kinds of traditionsin the Red River Valley and how they are carried out by different nationalities.

The people who originally came from Great Britain sometimesstill carry out their customs for Christmas as they did in their nativeland. For example, they hang their stockings by the fireplace hoping thatFather Christmas will fill them with Christmas treats. The British callthe day after Christmas, Boxing Day. On this day, most families give moneyto the mailman, milkman, and others who have served them throughout theyear. An old English dinner includes, brown headcheese, roast peacock, aboar's head, and mutton pies.

The people who originally come from France have their childrenput their shoes on the doorstep on Christmas Eve, so, he, Petit Noel (theChrist Child), can fill them with gifts. The French use mistletoe as a symbolof good luck.

The people that immigrated from Germany may still use theircustoms. For example, some people have Christmas trees in their homes foreach member of the family. They decorate the trees with lights and candy.Many Germans enjoy roast goods for Christmas dinner.

Swiss people celebrate, also. The young Swiss visit ninefountains on their way to midnight church services on Christmas Eve. Theytake three sips of water from each fountain. A legend says that if theydo this, they will find their future husband or wife waiting at the doorof the church. Some Swiss also believe that animals can speak at midnighton Christmas Eve and they kneel in honor of the Christ Child.

I interviewed some friends in the community to discoverhow they use to spend their Christmas.

Mrs. Docken told me that when she was a little girl, shewould write a letter to Santa Claus and put it inside the stove. She toldher mother that it would burn up and her mother would say, "No, itwon't, but if you keep the stove door open it will burn. If you shut thedoor it will go up the stove pipe." For Christmas dinner, she remembershaving turkey and all the trimmings.

Mrs. Robert Nordstrom told me that when she was a childwhat she recalls most about Christmas is the beautiful smells. The smellof evergreen from a live tree, of wood crackling in the stove, the prunesand spices cooking for Vinetarta, (an Icelandic dessert) and the dates bubblingfor cookie filling. All the baking was done at the last minute since theyhad no deep freeze to preserve things. On Christmas Eve they hurried toget all the chores done. The animals were given extra feed and the disheswere done from the evening meal. They could then open their gifts. Whenshe was little, they would go upstairs to wait for Santa Claus to come andGrandpa would call them down after he had arrived. Her older brother hadher convinced she saw Santa's sleigh land on their neighbor's roof one ChristmasEve.

Her favorite Christmas to remember is one year they hadgotten Grandpa a platform rocker. It was too big to wrap. So, on ChristmasEve they pulled it out of the closet and tied a big red bow around it. Whenthey went into the living room to open their gifts, she picked up a tinydoll her father had given her. She was all excited about it, and all thewhile, a beautiful bride doll was standing under the tree. Grandpa stoodthere laughing at her, and everyone was laughing at him because he was standingright next to his chair and didn't even know it! After they opened theirgifts, they would have a lunch of hot chocolate candy for a Christmas treat.Christmas Day was a peaceful day, with all the family to enjoying theirgifts and having a turkey dinner with all of the trimmings.

According to Mr. Robert Nordstrom, his Christmas Eve wasvery common with no extra except one present piece and a big meal. Theirlivestock were given an extra helping at Christmas time. On Christmas Day,all the relatives on Grandma's side gathered at his Aunt May's house andexchanged gifts by drawing names. On Thanksgiving Day, all the relativesgathered at his Aunt Carrie's house. Thanksgiving was the date chosen whenthey would draw names for Christmas.

My dad was the youngest in his family as well as beingthe youngest nephew and grandchild, so he faired pretty well at Christmas.Just the adults drew names - he received presents from everybody.

As I think of it, we have carried out traditions in ourfamily as my parents did in their families. After all, that's how traditionsare started.


Docken, Harriet, Interview, January 1975

Nordstrom, Robert, Interview, January 1975

Nordstrom, Mrs. Robert, Interview, January 1975

view, January 1975

Nordstrom, Mrs. Robert, Interview, January 1975