Xmas around Europe IV
In this time of the year we're eager to know about the traditions families around the world share when they are together at Xmas time. We would like to start a serie of little interviews with people of Europe telling us what they eat, read, sing and share. So, let's start and merry Christmas!
Barbara and Karel, we live with our two children (10 and 7) in the centre of Amsterdam. My husband has two older children (16 and 17), who spend weekends with us. I’m an illustrator and creator of Dutch children’s magazine Lieve. My husband is in market research.
My favourite book to read the children is Christmas in the stable by Astrid Lindgren. It’s a beautifully written story full of warmth, the way Astrid Lindgren heard about it from her mother. I’m a big admirer of Astrid Lindgren’s in general. She’s really understands the spirit and imaginary of a child.
Oh… not very originally, but the kids and me always play Wham’s Last Christmas….
Our tree. Besides a few greens here and there, I like to keep the rest simple. A lot of candlelight of course. We are lucky to have a chimney in our living room, so when that is lit, nothing else is needed….
We like to eat something wild for the Christmas dinner. We make a big thing out of the dinner, cook a lot and have so many shops around where we can buy good and fresh ingredients. We really do that together. The rest of the evenings we try to eat more light with fish or salad. The kids make nice decorations for the table, like name tags.
Tradition as a child
My father had a huge attraction to celebrate Christmas in the mountains. So as a child, we were lucky to go skiing during Christmas holidays with my parents. We always stayed at the same hotel in Switzerland. My brother and I used to play games in the attic of the hotel with the other kids. Christmas eve we went to a little chapel in the village, always covered in snow, very romantic.
Tradition as a parent
When I became a mother and kids going to school, we were introduced by how they celebrate in school with dinners in their classroom etcetera. Children dressing up, bringing some food and sing Christmas songs. It really means a lot to them and the parents are very much involved. So, Christmas for me is also that part. At home we celebrate with the whole family and all the children. My parents, and my brother, his wife and their kids are coming over for a Christmas dinner. We don’t do a lot with presents, because in Holland we celebrate Sinterklaas at 5th December, who brings presents for the children. The last day of the year I make a calendar with the kids, to hang at our magnet board in the kitchen. We set out for half a year, and than decorate it with drawings. We started this a few years ago and I thought it was a nice ritual to end the year. In general, we sit a lot at our kitchen table, drawing, painting, working with clay e.g.