23 December 2014

Christmas Traditions {Past and Present}

I grew up in a family where we had traditions it seemed for every little celebration; from Friday family game night to having a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas, we knew how to celebrate life together as a family. Having special traditions was one of the unique things that made us the 'Breen family', it unified us and brought everybody together. When Jim and I got married, I was excited to make new traditions for our little family, while still treasuring the ones from my childhood.

Christmas time seems to always full to the brim of holiday memory making! And combining holiday traditions from my family of origin along with my new family has been a lot of fun to create along the way. Some of the best ones have been...

Making a birthday cake for Baby Jesus
Yup we were that family. Oh and did I forget to mention we also sang happy birthday and even had a chair set aside just for the birthday boy? I remember on one particular Christmas thinking how cool it was we got to have cake at breakfast on Christmas. Though I am quite sure my siblings and I probably teased my Mom for doing it, looking back I think how those actions helped remind us kids of what the true meaning of Christmas is all about. I'm not sure if I'll have enough time tomorrow to make a birthday cake, but we'll definitely bust out some chords of happy birthday.

Watching the wise men travel to Bethlehem
One of the most loved things for us kids to do was move the three wise guys around the living room/kitchen symbolizing their journey to see the newborn King. We took this job very seriously, especially when we were little. Somehow the wise men safely arrived every Epiphany, amid the dangerous twists and turns through the living room bookshelves...I guess I'm actually better at directions than I thought. Currently our three wise guys have left the bookshelf and are slowly making their way through couch terrain.

Breakfast feast for Christmas Eve dinner
On Christmas Eve my Dad would make smoked salmon on cedar log planks, it was amazing! When we got married, I knew I wasn't even about to try and do justice to my Dad's mad cooking skills. A fun tradition we began since year one of marriage is having breakfast food for dinner on Christmas Eve. No it is not just your typical bowl of cereal and yes we do it up all fancy like. The menu for this year? homemade hot chocolate, feta spinach quiche, and chocolate chip orange ricotta pancakes. Oh and bacon...because well, its bacon!

Christmas ornaments from traveling adventures
When my parents first got married they began to collect Christmas ornaments from all the places they traveled together. It was so cool growing up to look at our tree and see a story played out of all of Mom and Dad's fun times together. I always knew as I got older and hopefully traveled to do the same.
Its amazing to look at the tree in our apartment now and see ornaments from all the places I have traveled before I knew Jim. We've carried on this tradition too, and came home with plenty of ornaments from when we went to Alaska and Seattle for our honeymoon. I love to look at our tree and be reminded of shared memories and adventures together. Its crazy because already we have a tree pretty full of ornaments...give it a few more years and we may need a second tree!

Giving presents to Baby Jesus
In the kitchen hutch during Advent, my Mom kept a small bag of hay. Every night after before dinner, she asked us if we had anything to give Jesus that day (kind action, sharing with a sibling, helping Dad out, etc.). If we said yes, she gave us a small piece of hay to put in the empty manger so that way when Jesus was born he would have a nice warm bed to sleep in. So simple, but so sweet.

What are some of your family traditions this time of year? Share away! :)


  1. We usually do the traveling wise men, too. :) Most of our usual traditions are out the window this year, since we're remodeling the half of our house where they usually take place, but the usual watching of lots of Christmas movies is still intact! The Fourth Wise Man, It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street... I'm hoping to make our special Christmas morning egg bake, too :)

    Merry Christmas!

    The Starving Inspired

  2. Love the hay idea! Its so sweet! My husband and I also began our ornament collection once we got married (thus we have two, lol). We also put up ornaments that special people gave us or made for us. As for my family (parents), our tradition is mainly eating the same food (main course and dessert) every Christmas. Merry Christmas to you and your husband! :-)

  3. Love the idea of a birthday cake for Jesus... I will def do that when I have kiddos!


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