Because we now have 4 generations of relatives we hire a hall. We do this about the 2nd Sunday of December. That way everyone knows every year when to plan to celebrate. The hall is decorated with a tree with ornaments and we have holiday music playing (a boom box). Folding tables provided by the hall are set up with chairs and disposable holiday tablecloths are put on them. (We wait until after Christmas each year and when they go on sale, we buy them and put them away for next year).
Everyone brings their special dish to share and this is displayed on a separate long large table. This year we had chicken wings, ham, turkey, meatballs, potato salad, macaroni salad, tossed salad, homemade bread, dinner rolls, pizza, and many, many delicious desserts. One of my aunts makes a traditional dish called bacala which is a fish dish made from soaked codfish and then cooked into a soup like dish. It is so good and it is the only day out of the whole year that I get to eat it. I even bring a little container with me and bring some home and the next day I cook some linguine and heat the bacala up and pour it over. I feel like I have died and gone to heaven. It is so g.o.o.d.
Santa pays a visit dressed in his royal attire with a beard thrown in and offers gifts to all the little ones as well as the big ones. It's nice to see how the little kids have grown, to hear how they are doing whether in nursery school, regular school, college or in the working field. My aunts, cousins, their children and their children (4 generations) mingle and laugh and break bread. This is a tradition that my nona and nono had when they were alive in their home. Then when they died their children took turns every year hosting it at their home. It finally got to a point that there were close to 60 of us so we rent a hall now. I hope this continues for the rest of my life and then is handed down to the next generation to keep doing it. I look forward to it every year.
Does your Italian family have the traditional seven fish dishes on xmas eve? Do you make the cappelini with nuts,olives & anchovies garlic. Saute in olive oil pour over the pasta. It is sooo good. Boy we Italians sure know how to eat------
Is there traditional gifts that are given?
Our big family Christmas celebration is much like Joesgirl's Italian family celebration. We are at around 40-45 people, so haven't gone to a hall yet. Those with big enough homes take turns hosting. Everyone brings a dish to pass, we draw names on Thanksgiving for the adults, and everyone brings a wrapped gift for their own child. Two of the uncles take the kids on a hay-ride around the neighborhood; one uncle drives and the other plays the guitar while everyone sings Christmas carols. Before we had a trailer, we used a big van. When we return, the kids get a breathtaking glimpse of Santa leaving the house, and then they see their gifts under the tree. We have been doing this for over 20 years, and the children say it is their favorite part of Christmas!
At Christmas, my family usually all get together to celebrate. Our family is very multi-cultural, and this year, our house will be the gathering place. We have family members who are from India, who are Jewish, and African.
I know that in the past, we've only celebrated Xmas. I would like to be able to celebrate all, but I don't really know how to "integrate" everything in a smooth manner that won't offend anyone. Any suggestions?
By Brenda B. from CA
Have you spoken to your family members to ask for ideas? They might be excited about celebrating other holidays beside Christmas and even be willing to pitch in to help make the gathering at your home extra special. What a lucky family to have so many holidays to celebrate!
For the Jewish Hannukah holiday, the most recognizable symbol is the Menorah, which has 9 candle holders:
8 for each of the 8 days of Hannukah, and one in the middle which is the shamash ("helper or servant"), the candle used to light the other candles.
This year Hannukah is from sunset on Dec 11 to sunset Dec 19. Hannukah is spelled other ways too, like Chanukah or Chanukkah or Hanukah.
The menorah and the candles celebrate the miracle of light, when olive oil in the ancient temple was only enough for one day, but miraculously lasted 8 days.
Having a menorah up at Christmas time would be very appropriate and welcome.
Your might consider having a holiday buffet dinner and have everyone bring their favorite family dishes to share with everyone.
I would think that honoring everyone's traditions would not be offensive to anyone! Contrary to what you may have heard, most Jewish people don't mind if they are wished a "Merry Christmas", and most Christians don't mind hearing about and celebrating other traditions. Diversity is a good thing, so don't be overly sensitive, especially since you're trying to do a good thing by discussing and celebrating diverse customs. Have fun!