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InfoWest Christmas Traditions

December 20, 2023

Tiffany’s family tradition is to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve. It started with her grandmother who is German. In Germany they celebrate on Christmas Eve. What do they do? They usually have dinner and eat foods like Kassler, mashed potatoes, and sauerkraut. For dessert, they have eggnog and a huge assortment of German cookies like Spritz (Spritzgeback), Thumbprint Cookies (Kulleraugen), Lebkuchen, Pfeffernusse, and more!

Dinner is followed by a game where they hunt for a pickle ornament hidden in the tree and they give gifts. One of Tiffany’s favorite memories with their Christmas tradition is when her grandmother would put candles on the tree and light them! 

Reminded of the holiday fun, Tiffany remarks, “we always have a way of making Christmas Eve feel magical. Every year you can feel the holiday spirit.” 

Josh's family tradition is "Christma Eve Gift." No one is really sure how it started, but it's a game his family has been playing for generations. How's it work? The first person to say, text, call, or otherwise get the message of "Christmas Eve Gift." to the other person gets a small extra gift. With a competitive family, here are just a few things Josh has done....

  • In 3rd grade, his family TP'd his Uncle, Aunt, and Grandparents' house - with toilet paper with Christmas Eve gifts written all over it.
  • Mid-night caroling "We just want our Christmas Eve Gift..." sung to We wish you a Merry Christmas at midnight.
  • One year his family placed Christmas cards all around his Uncle and Aunts house.
  • His Uncle dressed up as a UPS man to deliver a "package"

Last year Josh even placed a large banner on his garage saying Christmas Eve gift in case anyone decided to show up to his house late in the evening.

"Nothing brings the family together like a little competition and turning phones on silent so you don't see that Christmas Eve text."

As a kids Josh's parents would let him win... and often they would take the family to the movies as the gift.

"Some of my favorite movies are the ones I saw on Christmas Eve."

Mark’s family Christmas tradition growing up was called “Animal Tree.” Growing up in Cedar City, Utah, the local area is mountainous with many wild animals. To keep the holiday spirit alive for the local furry friends, Mark and his family would decorate a wild tree in the local area with food safe for animals. Mark’s parents came up with the idea themselves and quickly became a beloved tradition for him and his family. 

“I liked the idea of giving wild animals food like a Christmas treat. It’s really a very odd tradition, but to me it had that spirit of Christmas feel to it and I remember looking forward to the day we would go out and decorate the ‘Animal Tree’.” 

How does it work? First his parents would get all the different kinds of food. “The idea is that it would feed any of the wild animals in the area,” said Mark. His parents would get meat, specifically suet, which is beef fat before getting rendered down. Some of the food included carrots, birdseed, popcorn, and cranberries. After getting all of the food options, they would find a wild tree in the area and decorate it like a Christmas tree with all of the food. 

“Instead of the usual decorations, we’d have suet hanging on the branches, for meat eaters like hawks or coyotes, carrots dangling like icicles, garlands of popcorn and cranberries, and we’d scatter birdseed on the ground around the tree.” 

Whitni’s Christmas tradition is opening Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve as a family. 

“The first set of pajamas I remember getting was a pink nightgown when I was 8 years old,” says Whitni. Her mom started this tradition when she was really little and wanted to put a spin on the common tradition of opening one gift the night before Christmas. 

Whitni and her family go to her grandma’s house on her mom’s side. Her extended family comes too and they all eat Christmas Eve dinner together. Sometimes they even open gifts from other family members. 

After Christmas Eve dinner, Whitni and her family go back to their house gather around the Christmas tree, and open their pajamas. 

Once everyone is in their pajamas, they put on the movie ‘Elf’ and cuddle up on the couch before bed. 

“One of my favorite memories was a couple of years ago when my mom decided to get us all matching Grinch Christmas pajamas. We all got socks and a matching Grinch set.”

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