Wednesday, 10 December 2008

A traditional Christmas

After many years of Christmas having to be somewhere in the UK, this year will be the first in a very long time that we have been able to have a Christmas in France.  We thought we'd have a very quiet and relaxing time, doing nothing.

However the best laid plans of mice and men.....  Our younger son and his wife will be joining us after all.  Our daughter-in-law is French and, I'm told, really looking forward to a traditional Christmas celebration.

A traditional Christmas?  Is there such a thing?  I suspect every family has a slightly different view on the traditions of Christmas.  We have family recipes for Christmas cake and Christmas pudding.  My grandmother did make her own mincemeat but for years I've just added extra brandy to a jar of a good bought variety.  We almost always had turkey with two different stuffings, and bread sauce, but occasionally we've tried goose or joints of beef.  This year it will be beef.

Then there are all sorts of traditions covering when to open the presents, when to eat (finishing in time for the Queen's speech, anyone?).  At least we no longer have the stocking or pillowcase, and where to leave them, dilemma. 

So I'm really hoping that daughter in law's vision of a traditional Christmas, and presumably she will mean a British one, will coincide with my offerings.  I've started the pudding, late as usual, but what else?

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  1. A, I think the traditional Christmas celebrations of my childhood with a meal timed to finish before the Queens speech at 3pm were great. (we listened on the radio when I was very young).

    On the day we woke early despite our parents best efforts to delay the event and opened our presents as quickly as possible often ripping off the labels so we were unsure who had sent them!

    As an adult I have spent Christmas in a few different places around the globe, if I was in the UK it would be a leisurely start, pork pie for breakfast and lunch with family or friends.
    As for the Queens speech nowadays, well if my memory serves me correctly the content is now released to the press before the actual day!

    That's progress for you!

  2. Is your pudding recipe a family secret, if not it would make an interesting post in it's own right. When I explained to our local friends that our wedding cake was the same as our Xmas cake and that the tradition was to save the top tier for the christening they were aghast - mind you 15 month old pièce montée would be a tad rancid.

  3. I would love to know if there is a traditional Christmas. I'm Chinese and doesn't celebrate Christmas.

  4. Ah, stocking first, followed by bucks fizz and smoked salmon with brown bread and butter (served with a slice of lemon) with a small extra glass of champagne for a light lunch. Brisk walk, then dinner of roast goose,roast veg and roast potatoes (both roasted in goose fat eaten with a suitable wine. All this followed with Christmas pudding or figgy pudding with cream or home made custard.


    Queen's speach - gave that up years ago, along with Morecamb and Wise.

  5. Oh, forgot about the presents. They come after light lunch and usually before walk.

  6. Family traditions evolve over the years, and as you say, they all differ. Still, I think the general outline takes much the same shape. It will all go well.

  7. SOH and I are still working on our traditions... this is our first christmas together and we want it to be special.

  8. @Mike, I remember the finishing in time for the Queen's speech too. We were allowed open stockings but not the main presents, which had to be kept until the family was together. Of course I know some families consider the Father Christmas presents to be the main ones, and family presents are token gifts.

    @j, I have the recipe tucked away at the end of the blog. I'll republish in a day or two. My son's wedding cake was made in France. They attempted to make it look like a traditional one (British) but missed it somehow. By a long way.

    @ECL I think there are as many traditions as there are families. I suppose the main points are much the same but even these will vary from country to country.

    @Elaine, Bucks Fizz, of course, yes! I'd forgotten that. We have either brandy butter or brandy cream with the pudding - just in case the alcohol content wasn't yet high enough.

    @Dragonstar, I'm sure you're right. I certainly hope it will go well but there's no reason to think it won't.

    @Sage, that's lovely to be able to evolve your own. It will be wonderful I'm sure.

  9. This year, for the first time ever, we are going abroad to spend Christmas with our daughter in Dubai. She is determined to have a "traditional" christmas and is planning a full turkey dinner etc. It will be very strange on many counts - not least Boxing day on the beach!

    Hope your celebration goes well in France "et Bonne Noel!"

  10. I grew up in the Southern Hemisphere celebrating Xmas at the end of the school year and with summerly temperatures...
    When I married my German husband, Xmas was the one cultural difference we had. I liked the colorful lights, his opinion was Xmas lights can only be white...My family decorates the tree at the beginning of December, German families only on Christmas Eve!!
    For the past 12 years we have spent the holidays alone (3 of us) in the French Alps, no tree, small decorations, our mutual Xmas present is the vacation itself and dinner is...cheese fondue.
    Wishing you a lovely holiday with your family!

  11. Wishing you a Merry French Christmas!


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