15 Old-Fashioned Christmas Traditions We Should Bring Back
These photos of Christmases past prove that holiday cheer knows no bounds!
A traditional dinner and churchCourtesy Mary Beth Fulton/Reminisce
After a traditional fish dinner, Mary Beth Fulton and her siblings, Terry, Judy, and Janice, knelt to pray before attending Mass at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Wahoo, Nebraska, in the 1950s. “There’d be folding chairs,” recalls Mary Beth, now of nearby Lincoln, “to handle the overflow crowd.” Check out the history behind your favorite Christmas traditions.
Courtesy Frances Wood/Reminisce
“Sixty-seven years ago, my mother started a tradition by knitting Christmas stockings for each of my four children. The stockings were quite large and, much to the children’s delight, held oodles of goodies. When my mother could no longer knit, I started making stockings for new family members. I’m 98 and still knit simple things, but now, as the family continues to grow, my oldest daughter has taken over the joyful tradition of making the Christmas stockings.” —Frances B. Wood
The joy of gift giving
“When I was young, we had a tree sprayed white with twinkling white lights and stacks of presents piled halfway to the top. I was the youngest, so it was my job to give out the gifts—no mad free-for-all at our house. Dad insisted I give out each gift one at a time and announce who it was for and who it was from. We learned how much fun it was to see someone receive a gift from us and we learned how to say thank you. We also learned patience. Much later I realized this: It wasn’t the opening of the gifts that made the magic, it was the closeness of family and being together.” —Elaine Lang. You’ll want to steal these Christmas traditions from around the world.
Finding a home-grown tree
Courtesy Ben Reem/Reminisce
As was their custom in 1957, Ben Reem, of Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, found a large tree on the back forty of his parents’ home in Aitkin and cut off the top. Decorations included tinsel, frosted-glass globes and a silver spire on top.
Stocking filled with joy
“Stepping over the threshold at my grandparents’ house, we experienced comfort and joy. Red felt stockings for my brother and me, filled to the brim with goodies from Santa, hung from the ornate white mantel.” —Michelle Gagnon Marvel. Check out these new Christmas traditions that you’ll want to start with your family this year.
A 12-foot tree
Courtesy Brenda Hagan/Reminisce
“Four months after Roland and I started dating in August 1963, Christmas arrived and he invited me to his family’s Christmas Eve tree-decorating event. As we entered the front room, my mouth dropped to my chin. There in the living room stood a perfectly shaped 12-foot-tall Christmas tree. This was an amazing tradition and I wanted to carry it on after his parents retired. We married three years later, purchased a ranch-style home, and converted our garage into a family room with a vaulted ceiling to accommodate the tree. Roland’s parents retired to Florida and we found a local farm to supply our 12-foot tree. Now our oldest son has put an addition with a cathedral ceiling onto his ranch-style home, just waiting for us to retire.” —Breanda Hagen
“My mom and dad started the tradition of making raviolis over 50 years ago, with my brother, sister and me helping out. We always made them on Christmas Day. After getting up early and opening our presents, we’d march into the kitchen and start the preparations for the special meal.” —Frank C. Modica. This is the real reason Christmas colors are red and green.
Helping Grandma with the feast
Courtesy Mike Simko/Reminisce
“We all did our part to help our grandma Lillian Stawarky fix the feast,” writes Mike Simko of Bridgeport, Connecticut, third from left. “We polished pans, mashed turnips and potatoes, and made cookies out of leftover pie crust. After dinner, we went downtown to see the holiday lights. My dad, Vin, took this photo in 1963.
“On Christmas Eve, we invited my Great-Aunt Mary and her husband, Carl, over for a Norwegian feast of lutefisk and lefse.” —Betty Anderson
Gather around the table
“Grandpa, an engineer on the Pennsylvania Railroad, spent long hours preparing his yearly Christmas feast. That year he would feed 66 of us. The festively decorated tables ran from the large country kitchen into the living room. My grandpa had prepared roasted turkeys and ducklings, mounds of fluffy mashed potatoes and candied sweet potatoes, bread stuffing and several other side dishes. The sweets of the day were his homemade German doughnuts (known as faschnauts). After dinner, we sang carols and read from the Bible. Then ringing sleigh bells and a knock on the living room window announced Santa Claus, who came in burdened with gifts for everyone.” —Joyce Elaine Boring. If you want to start the tradition of making homemade ornaments every year, take a look at these DIY Christmas ornaments.
Courtesy Kay Schopp/Reminisce
Kay Schopp, now of Tucson, Arizona, recalls holiday baking with her kids Susan and Danny. “Danny is sprinkling a paintbrush, which he used to decorate the cookies,” she says. This picture was taken in 1954 at the family’s home in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The night of the wigilia, the festive vigil, my Polish family shared in the oplatek, a wafer of water and flour—a reminder of the bleak outlook facing the family searching for a room in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago.” —Ed Chrostowski. Another tradition you can start is hopping in the car and going to visit one of these historic hotels that are decked out for the holidays.
“It became a family tradition to sing along to Bing Crosby’s White Christmas album. The kids especially loved to sing “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” and the line “the big fat man with the long white beard—he’s coming to town!”” —Linda Mixdorf
Sleigh bells ring
Courtesy Carol Pritchett/Reminisce
“One of my most cherished childhood memories is of Dad taking church singers caroling in the bobsled with a wonderful set of sleigh bells on the horses. Here is our pastor holding my own set of bells, which the church choir used for its rendition of “Sleigh Ride” in 2014.” —Carol Pritchett
Around the fireplace
Courtesy Barbara Mohr/Reminisce
What’s Christmas without a fireplace, even if it is cardboard? Siblings, from left, Kevin, Gregory, Paula, and Kathleen show off their Christmas gifts in 1966 as Mom, Barbara Mohr of Millington, Michigan, gets them to smile. Next, read up on these fun facts you didn’t know about the holiday season.
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