Christian and secular holiday celebrations are as varied as all the traditions brought to this country. How do you celebrate Christmas?

We start with the Christmas tree, a universal tradition that begins with the hunt for that perfect tree. Are you a traditionalist who has to have a real tree and insists on cutting your own (with a permit in hand, of course)? Or do you head for the local tree farm or tree lot that makes it easy to find tree perfection? Haul it home, set it up and the decorating fun begins! Or do you want a living tree that you can replant in the spring? Or maybe you just haul out the fake tree from storage that sets up in a jiffy, matches your decor, leaves no trace for cleanup and packs up just as fast to disappear for another year?

For many Americans, Christmas is a month-long non-stop festival of activities. The kiddies are all tracking Santa’s arrival in his sleigh. Maybe ice skating on a frozen pond with a roaring bonfire nearby is part of your festivities. Or attending religious services, holiday-themed concerts and school productions. Some traditions may include a visit to New York to see Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree, tour the imaginative window displays, or head to Radio City Music Hall where the Rockettes kick in the Christmas season with their annual show.

And, there’s glorious food. One of the beautiful things about food is how it calls up special memories, especially when engrained in a tradition. My Norwegian grandmother, mother and aunts all gathered in the kitchen to begin a non-stop marathon of Christmas baking. Out from storage came special baking irons and molds and results were shared in tins and stored away for the week of non-stop socializing from house to house before Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We admired decorations, sipped weak Norwegian coffee and munched massive amounts of heavy-on-the-cardamom Fattigmanns Bakkels, Rosettes, Krumkaker, Seterjentas Rommebrod, Kardemommeboller and Vafler to name a few. As a child one Christmas, I counted over 30 varieties of sweets on my Grandmother’s lace doily-covered dining room table – no one counted calories in those days! Those interested in all things Norwegian can check-out this all inclusive website.

Tradition connects us to our history. We’d love to hear about yours. You can comment here on this site, or connect and converse with us on Facebook.

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