Five December Days to Remember

December-Days

 

Can you believe December is already in full swing? I sure can’t! But here it is with all its hustle and bustle and here I am still getting used to living in a house again and working on getting back into a routine with our homeschool lessons. We are using a Waldorf-inspired curriculum this year so part of our school work involves incorporating traditions from other cultures. As such I’ve been researching several different December traditions that I can include in our lessons. I really love this time of year and how steeped in tradition it is so I thought that I would share 5 of the traditions I’ve been researching along with one of the traditions our family already observes.

Krampus Nacht – December 5th – I figured this was the most appropriate day to start with since tonight is in fact Krampus Nacht. Krampus is a figure typically portrayed as a demon and is the contrasting figure to St. Nicholas whose feast day is tomorrow. While St. Nicholas will brings toys and gifts, Krampus will bring coal and bundles of switches and administer beatings to naughty children.

St. Nicholas Day- December 6th- The celebration of the feast of St Nicholas is a popular tradition in several European countries and many European children get their holiday presents on his feast day. The legend states that St. Nicholas arrives with a white horse by steamship from Spain and distributes gifts to all the children who have been good. We will be celebrating St. Nicholas day for the first time this year by making cookies to take to our neighbors and reading the story of St. Nicholas during our morning circle time.

St. Lucia Day- December 13th- Observing the feast of St. Lucia is a popular tradition in many Scandinavian countries. Whenever I think of St. Lucia Day images of girls wearing white robes, wreaths with candles and S-shaped sweet buns pop into my head, although I never knew what the meaning behind these things was until recently. As it turns out, despite being popular in the Scandinavian countries, St Lucia is actually a Sicilian saint. There is some question about exactly where the candle wreath tradition comes from. It is said that it either represents the fact that St. Lucia was burned for refusing to renounce her Christian beliefs or that she wore a similar wreath on her head to keep her hands free while hiding Christians from persecution in the catacombs. There is much more to her story than I can fit here, but she is truly a fascinating saint and her backstory is worth the read. As for the S-shaped buns, they are actually made with saffron and it seems that there is a similar type of bread that is common in Sicily, so it’s possible that this is the origin of St. Lucia buns. I think making St. Lucia buns is another tradition we are going to try and incorporate into lessons this year.

Winter Solstice – December 21st– The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and a very important day in agrarian cultures. It celebrates the rebirth of the sun and the promise of spring and longer, warmer days to come. It is also a very important day for Jacob and I as well. When Jacob and I were growing up several families in our community would get together for a solstice celebration with food, music and merriment. It was during one of these celebrations when our parents left us alone that we had our first kiss. (Awwww!) No matter where we are together or apart, we always take the time to pause and remember that solstice from our teenage years.

Beginning of the Twelve Days of Christmas- December 26th – Okay, so this isn’t a day per se. It’s more like the beginning of a group of days, but I wanted to add it in here because many people don’t know the meaning of the Twelve Days of Christmas or when they actually happen. Despite the fact that popular culture will begin singing the popular song well before December 25th, the actual Twelve Days of Christmas refer to the 12 days following Christmas and leading up to Epiphany.

I hope you enjoyed this list! Now I want to know, how many of these traditions were you already familiar with? How many were new to you? Do you plan on incorporating these or any other new traditions into your celebrations this year? Leave me a comment and let me know!

About chelsea

Chelsea is mama to 4 year old Will and partner to her oilfield man and best friend of 16 years, Jacob. She splits her time between the family’s camper in the North Dakota Oil Patch and a small urban homestead in Kentucky. Chelsea writes about the family’s camper adventures at www.talesofanoilfieldgypsy.blogspot.com. She is a batik artist and loves teaching others about the art of batik at www.beautyofbatik.com. She can also be found working on her other sites www.chelseaniehaus.com and www.urbanagricultureinfo.com. In her moments of spare time she enjoys knitting, sewing and gardening.

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