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O'Tannenbaum - Discussion - Week 2


Prof. Felicia Hartwick
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Discussion -  This week is the time to tell stories of this time of year. It is not limited to Christmas. We have  Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or the Winter Solstice. Please tell us about stories of how you celebrate or a legend associated with the holiday you celebrate. 

 

 

Tell us what you do.  Write at least 100 words and earn 10 Diamonds! If you write more, in response to what others say, you can earn an additional 10 Diamonds if your post is at least 100 words long.

 

You have until December 31st to post.   You earn a bonus of 3 Diamonds, though, if you post one or both within a week of me posting this!

 

 

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So typically, in my family, Christmas is spent with us having this huge party sort of thing. We invite people from different parts of our family to come to our house and we all cook something to bring. My house generally makes Gammon, Roast chicken with potatoes and gravy, an assortment of other side dishes depending on what we all like and for desert we end up having home-made trifle. Normally there's a small gift exchange and people bring something for another person. 

 

But since Covid last year, the gathering is only concerned to people in my house. Yet we still made the most of it. We had a huge spread of dishes that everyone enjoyed, obviously my father complained as usual but we had fun! Each of us bought the other gifts that we loved and it was just all about the closeness of the family. 

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So, when I was a kid Christmas used to be a big thing. I was an only child and I had a big family. My dad used to be a truck driver so that was the best part about Christmas because he was on holiday and was home. But on Christmas Eve we would visit my mothers dad and step mom and spend time with her side of the family. On Christmas I would wake up early, before my parents, and go into the living room. My dad would go all out, he would leave the doors to the fireplace open since we never used it, he would make boot prints on the carpet and everything. Inside and outside of the house were all decorated. Once my parents woke up I would open all my presents before we got ready to my dad's parents house where it was just my grandparents, great grandmother, my dad's brother and sister along with their kids and partners. We would open presents and have dinner, and wouldn't leave until it was dark out. Once we got home we would walk next door to my moms mothers house and eat cookies and I would open presents. When I got older I would spend Christmas Holiday at my dad's parents until I had to go back to school. It would just be me and my cousin since we are the oldest out of six. But now since all my grandparents are gone, I just spend Christmas with my dad. I call my mom and talk to her for a while and a few other family members I’m close to. Me and my dad have Christmas dinner and that’s it. Neither of us have very much Christmas spirit anymore. I’ll watch Christmas movies all day and make hot cocoa. I don’t mind it much though I like it simple and not having to run around all day, since my family doesn’t live close. It’s still a good day and fun day. 

 

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Being that we have a younger child, Christmas is still a big deal around our house.  We have the tradition of giving out one present to everyone on Christmas Eve as a way to kick off the celebration.  There is, of course, the obligatory cookie making for Santa, even though I have a sneaky suspicion that my daughter really doesn't believe anymore.  She is nice enough not to ruin it for Mom, so that's good!!

Christmas Day is usually just the three of us (four this year since Grandma lives with us now).  We enjoy a quiet meal at home and each other's company, provided I am not working.  Sadly, many of my holidays are spent working, but we still try to make it as festive as posible.  My husband and daughter will come to the hospital and see me on break, usually bringing food with them for me and my partner (fellow EMT).  If that's not possible, I FaceTime them on my break and we drink eggnog together (even though mine is actually coffee from the vending machine).
 

One tradition we NEVER miss, even if we have to work it around busy schedules is watching Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol (the musical with Albert Finney).  I'm not even sure how this became a 'thing', but it wouldn't be Christmas proper without it now.  

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Winter Solstice is a time of (in the Northern hemisphere) the least amount of daylight hours.  A lot of people say it is the 'shortest day of the year' which to me seems strange, because our 'day' (as in 7 days in a week) is the 24 hour period. (Yes, going off on a tangent there ... gets back on course...) 

 

So this time of shortest hours of daylight and longest hours of nighttime is a solar experience, which happens once a year -- but in the Southern hemisphere, when we have Winter Solstice, they have their Summer Solstice!  Balance!  :)   

 

The time of the start of winter, according to the meteorological calendar is December 1st (and lasts through the end of February).  However, the astronomical winter season starts during the solstice, which this year is on December 21st (7:58 AM Pacific time).

 

What is absolutely nifty about Winter Solstice, though, is that much of the symbolism of it embraces 'lightness' and 'rebirth'. For example the Norse Goddess Frigga gave birth to her 'young sun' on the winter solstice, a birth viewed as light coming from darkness, and, in some areas of northern Europe, it is known as "Mother's Night"1 and is a day focused on rebirth, light and forward movement. 

 

How I celebrate Winter Solstice is pretty simple. Overall, I have the feeling of the returning of longer hours of daylight, and an appreciation of the turning of the seasons. More specifically, though,  I have a large gratitude for the returning of longer hours of sunlight!  :lol:    So usually, on Winter Solstice, I sort of look at the clock and think, 'Gee, tomorrow there will be more daylight ...'   :cheer:   

 

 

1Mōdraniht or Modranicht (pronounced [ˈmoːdrɑniçt]

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I have a large family, four sisters and a brother. My favorite tradition that we do for Christmas is making presents. Because we have such a large family, my parents could not afford for all us kids to but each other gifts when we were younger, so they started a tradition of us making each of our siblings something. The things we make range from toys, candy and treats, painting or drawings. My brother even made me a wooden jewelry box one time. We all keep it a secret what we are making for the others until we exchange the gifts on Christmas morning. 

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New Year's Day, the traditional end of the holiday season, seems like an oddball holiday because most of the celebrations take place the day before (or shortly after midnight the day of)!  The rest of the day is officially a holiday, but it really only feels like a half of a holiday:  a lot of stuff is still open and people usually spend more time decompressing than actually celebrating.  Maybe the best way to think of the day is like the end of the weekend, but for an entire season.

 

New Year's Resolutions aren't my thing, though, not at all.  Instead, I have developed my own ritual for the day itself:  best described as a 'decompression ritual' of sorts.  After sleeping in to recover from the fun I had the night before, I can work out an have some nice food/snacks or something.  But then I go into the nearby city for a nice coffee before making it up to the final day of the 'zoo lights' festival where the local zoo is open late with various lights in different designs and colours.  Walking my way through the zoo, I'm not far away from a very specific restaurant where I can have tasty food and drink... and then I make my way back to my place to prepare for the first workweek of the new year!

 

Granted, I haven't been able to do that either last year or this year; not only was the zoo lights canceled both these years, but the restaurant in question shut down!  (It reopened a few months ago, but without any of my favourites...)

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Growing up, I always went to church on Christmas Eve, and as I got older I was even able to participate as one of the candle lighters that contributed to the service. I loved planning out my movements, lighting the candles, and walking out with my own little candle following the service. My family never decorated a whole lot; we had our tree with lovely ornaments, a couple buildings depicting a winter town, and a small advent tree to count down the days. Because of this, I used to really associate the candle lighting with the holiday. Now that my sister and I have grown up and moved out, we've been changing up our holiday routines. Now we like spending the day watching movies and spending time together along with eating some tasty food. We're still big fans of advent calendars though, especially the ones involving chocolate!

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Since we have a rather huge family. My lovely husband has 8 younger siblings and since all adopted, they represent three nationalities (Polish, British, Brazilian). Additionally, I am half French and half Canadian, which means I used to have food and traditions mixed. Therefore, it was very difficult to have a Christmas that would sit with everyone's culture and beliefs and so what we decided to do was to organize a one big celebrations, with everyone bringing some food from their countries over to the table. It may be challenging as Polish people don't eat meat for Christmas whereas Brits have a turkey :lol:

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Since Harry talked a bit about how our family celebrates Christmas, I'll tell you more about the way people in Poland celebrate Christmas. Very important aspect is that we open the gifts after the dinner on the Christmas Eve. As Harry mentioned, we don't eat meat over the dinner but fish, carp to be precise. We also have a nice beetroot soup, which tastes better than it sounds. From desserts we also have a cake called Makowiec, which is a form of pastry layered with poppy seed-based paste. Other important tradition is the Christmas wafer which we use to share with each other and wish each other Merry Christmas. 

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On 12/10/2021 at 6:45 PM, Aurelia West said:

Growing up, I always went to church on Christmas Eve, and as I got older I was even able to participate as one of the candle lighters that contributed to the service. I loved planning out my movements, lighting the candles, and walking out with my own little candle following the service. My family never decorated a whole lot; we had our tree with lovely ornaments, a couple buildings depicting a winter town, and a small advent tree to count down the days. Because of this, I used to really associate the candle lighting with the holiday. Now that my sister and I have grown up and moved out, we've been changing up our holiday routines. Now we like spending the day watching movies and spending time together along with eating some tasty food. We're still big fans of advent calendars though, especially the ones involving chocolate!

This reminds me of the other traditions we have in our family! After the dinner and opening the gifts, my family forms two groups. The first group, with me in it, goes to church and the second one stays at home with Louis. Louis is not religious and probably the last thing he would want to do after dinner is to walk and then sit in a cold church. I have always been religious and so every year I go to church to listen to the choir. I love this part of my tradition because it always gives me that proper holiday vibe.

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On 12/6/2021 at 11:14 PM, Emily Spencer said:

Being that we have a younger child, Christmas is still a big deal around our house.  We have the tradition of giving out one present to everyone on Christmas Eve as a way to kick off the celebration.  There is, of course, the obligatory cookie making for Santa, even though I have a sneaky suspicion that my daughter really doesn't believe anymore.  She is nice enough not to ruin it for Mom, so that's good!!

Christmas Day is usually just the three of us (four this year since Grandma lives with us now).  We enjoy a quiet meal at home and each other's company, provided I am not working.  Sadly, many of my holidays are spent working, but we still try to make it as festive as posible.  My husband and daughter will come to the hospital and see me on break, usually bringing food with them for me and my partner (fellow EMT).  If that's not possible, I FaceTime them on my break and we drink eggnog together (even though mine is actually coffee from the vending machine).
 

One tradition we NEVER miss, even if we have to work it around busy schedules is watching Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Carol (the musical with Albert Finney).  I'm not even sure how this became a 'thing', but it wouldn't be Christmas proper without it now.  

Honestly, the movie tradition part is literally my family. Each year, since I was born pretty much, we are constantly watching Home Alone. It became a sort of a tradition simply because of how the movie was being on TV all the time during the Christmas time. When I was a child I was super excited to watch it with a huge excitement. However, not that I am older....well...It can get a bit boring. It is very monotone for sure! But my children love it and so I decided to stick with this tradition. I usually just fall asleep in front of the TV.

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