I love to hear the different ways that people celebrate Christmas. Families and friends around the world develop traditions in their own way, and my family is no different. I'm winding down the blog today for Christmas so I thought it would be fun to share some of the things we do and why we do them and I'd love to hear what you do over the festive season, so please do share in the comments!
Christmas actually starts for us on December 24th, which is when we have our traditional turkey dinner. It's a bit of a funny story, really! Until I was 14 years old, we lived abroad or far away from family, so we always spent Christmas day the four of us - my parents, my brother and me. We opened our stockings from Father Christmas at the crack of dawn, ate my mum's Christmas lunch and then when lunch and washing up was finally over, we could finally open our presents! Traditions become so ingrained and I've never been the most flexible person...so this was the way I knew and I knew I liked it. The first year we moved back to London, we spent Christmas Day at my uncle and his family's house. It was lovely, of course, but to me it was just too different - we had to rush through our presents in the morning to make it over to their house, and while my uncle's Christmas lunch is SO good, it wasn't the same as my mum's. So our second year in London we ate my mum's Christmas lunch at home, the four of us, and then in the evening we went to my uncle's and had his meal for dinner! Well...that didn't work so well either - 2 Christmas dinners in one day is kind of the best thing and the worst thing at the same time. And so we came to settle on the arrangement we have been doing for the past 10 years; we cook our Christmas meal and eat as a family of four on Christmas Eve.
Now that my brother and I are older, it's become a lovely tradition to cook with my mum and influence the recipes. My mum and I are quite partial to Jamie Oliver and have found his turkey recipe to be one of the best, as well as his crispy roast potatoes! There's also a ham simmered in coke, sausages, red cabbage, sprouts sautéed with bacon, roasted vegetables, bread sauce and gravy and it's heaven.
Father Christmas still visits my brother and me (though this might be the last year, as he's getting married in 2016!), but we're not usually up at the crack of dawn anymore! We open our stockings and then head downstairs - usually to steal some Christmas Eve leftovers from the fridge! The nice thing about having our Christmas meal the day before is that no one has to get up early to start peeling potatoes or sorting out the turkey, and we can enjoy our morning properly. We usually pop open a bottle of Champagne and then sit down together for smoked salmon, scrambled eggs (always this recipe), toast, marmalade and tea. Then it's on to presents! We like to draw out the giving of presents, a bit like a ceremony. We've never been ones to tear all the paper off and be done in 10 minutes and while it might be a bit dorky, we sit around the tree and give our presents out one-by-one. We usually give lots of little presents so it can go on for some hours! By the time we're finished, it's time for a cup of tea and a slice of Christmas cake.
In the evening we go to my uncle's house. It's funny how Christmas traditions can be so different from family to family; my uncle, aunt and cousins usually spend much of the day recovering from Christmas Eve spent at the pub and my uncle is often found back down in the pub for a bit of hair of the dog on Christmas morning. It must be his recipe for success though, as he cooks a beautiful Christmas dinner! And of course we follow all of the traditions, finishing with a Christmas pudding, doused with brandy, that never quite seems to set alight properly.
The days after Christmas are some of the best; all the expectations are over and we can relax, enjoy our new gifts and make the best leftovers sandwiches. Either on Boxing Day or the day after, our family friends came over and for the past 4 years I've been making Jamie Oliver's sweet leek and turkey pie (can you see a pattern forming here?) and his Christmas pudding bombe...without fail! Our two families have a longstanding competitive streak and this is when the board games finally come out and things can get a little rowdy!
Do you celebrate Christmas? What are your traditions and the reasons behind them?
As this is my last post before Christmas, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday! I have one post scheduled between Christmas and New Year - a round-up of my favourite posts of 2015, which is perfect for reading in your pjs with a plate of leftovers balanced on your belly - and then I'll be back in 2016! xx