Holiday Traditions and Fun Facts

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One of my favorite parts of the season is the Holiday traditions. What makes them unique is they are usually only shared during this time of year, making them truly special. Here are some of our family’s favorite holiday traditions.

Our Holiday Traditions

Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgivings, I believe, are your typical type ones. Many great homemade dishes, desserts, and turkey. We brine our turkey each year. Brining is where you soak the turkey for 24-hours before cooking in a spice bath. This process makes the turkey come out very juicy when finished.

We typically host and have extended family over. This year we have challenged our three children to find a recipe and prepare it for our meal. Their menu items include apple pie, gluten-free cookies, and mac and cheese. During dinner, we also go around the table and share what each of us is thankful for.

Christmas Eve

In 2013 we adopted a new holiday tradition, going out to eat for Christmas Eve dinner. It was a hit, and for the next five years, we made restorations and dined out.

Times have changed, and we have hit pause on this holiday tradition for now. We all three children’s schedules being very busy with part-time work and school. We now use Christmas Eve as a chance to spent time together as a family at home. Once dinner is over, we usually get to open a single gift in the evening. This is an excellent little primer for the morning ahead.

Christmas

We always decorate our tree as a family. The entire family pitches in decorating inside and outside the house. Last year we invested in an artificial tree. We several lighting options. We usually went with a real tree purchased at Costco for under $40, but again we had to pivot because of the two of our three children away at college, we decorate the tree a lot earlier then we used too. A great looking artificial tree doesn’t need water.

We watch holiday movies, “ELF” happens to be one of our favorites and listen to holiday music during the month. 

As far as gifts, we are following the something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read the guideline for buying this year.

Bagna càuda

Bagna càuda, (from the Piedmontese “hot bath”) is a warm dip typical of Piedmont, Italy. The dish, which is served and consumed like fondue, is made with garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and butter. The meal is eaten by dipping raw, boiled, or roasted vegetables, especially peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, celery, cauliflower, artichokes, and onions. Raw seafood, such as shrimp, scallops, and oysters along with filet mignon or sirloin steak, is used as well.

It is traditionally eaten during the autumn and winter months and must be served hot, as the name suggests. Originally, in Piedmont, the Bagna càuda was placed in a big pan in the center of the table for communal sharing.

We have hosted a Bagna càuda party for the last 15 years. This tradition has been on my wife’s side of the family for many years. We invite family and friends to participate and typically host between Christmas and the New Year. We always try to invite someone new to the party to introduce them to the incredible meal and the smell of garlic!

When we were in debt, we had asked guests to BYOB to help with the cost of all the food, but now being debt-free, we ask our guests to bring a favorite drink or dessert if they like. Bagna càuda, is one of my favorite holiday traditions.

holiday

Lebkuchen

Lebkuchen is a traditional German baked Christmas treat, very similar to Gingerbread. Lebkuchen was another tradition that has been passed done on my wife’s side of the family from her grandmother. The process for making the dough takes an hour or two, but the key is to let it sit for up to two weeks before rolling and making cookies.

Baking L is typically a family event, with our children assisting cookie-cutter selection, baking, and tasting usually is left up to me. The cookies can be decorated and iced as well. We often share cookies with family and friends. These cookies make great gifts.

Holiday Fun Facts

It’s the Holiday season! We all know what that means? Office parties, holiday gatherings, time with distant family, and not so close friends. This all could lead to extended time for small talk, with people we possibly may not see until the next holiday season. So why not drop some holiday knowledge and entertain them we the some of the following holiday fun facts.

I’ve including some financially related facts for your personal finance geeks out there and some good old Christmas ones too. Enjoy!

  • It’s a time-honored tradition to eat fried chicken on Christmas in Japan. People in Japan order up their finger-licking-good Christmas chicken months in advance—to the tune of about 3,000,000 orders of KFC each year.
  • $1 billion in gift cards go unused every year.
  • The popular Christmas song “Jingle Bells” was actually written for Thanksgiving. The song was composed in 1857 by James Pierpont, and was initially called “One Horse Open Sleigh.”
  • Net profit in 2018 for Lego was $8.1 billion. To my fellow dads out there, watch where your step.
  • In North America, children put stockings out at Christmas time. Their Dutch counterparts use shoes.
  • There are 364 gifts mentioned in “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
  • Artificial Christmas trees have outsold real ones since 1991.
  • Many of the holiday traditions associated with Christmas (giving gifts, lighting a Yule log, singing carols, decorating an evergreen) date back to older religions.
  • Christmas Crackers were invented around 1846 by Tom Smith, who developed them for Christmas from the French habit of wrapping sugared almonds in twists of paper as gifts.
  • Each year more than 3 billion Christmas cards are sent in the U.S. alone.
  • According to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas is one of the two most popular times for couples to break up. However, Christmas Day is the least favorite day for breakups.
  • Shoppers took on an average of $1,000 worth of holiday debt in 2018.
  • Approximately 30-35 million real (living) Christmas trees are sold each year in the U.S.
  • The traditional three colors of Christmas are green, red, and gold. Green has long been a symbol of life and rebirth; red symbolizes the blood of Christ, and gold represents light as well as wealth and royalty.
  • Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
  • Each year there are approximately 20,000 “Rent-a-Santas” across the United States. “Rent-a-Santas” usually undergo annual training on how to maintain a jolly attitude under pressure from the public. They also receive practical advice, such as not accepting money from parents while children are looking and avoiding garlic, onions, or beans for lunch.
  • Over 25 million farm-grown Christmas trees are purchased in the United States, with a real market value of $1.01 billion.
  • The most popular day to buy a tree is the first Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend.
  • The average prices range for Christmas trees is $76 in sunny California to $27 in snowy North Dakota. Christmas Eve is the cheapest time to buy.
  • Festivus is a secular holiday celebrated on December 23 as an alternative to the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas season was created in 1966, but popularized by Seinfeld in 1997. “A Festivus for the rest of us.”

Sources:
Funology, Illinois.edu, Time, Metro, Lego, FactRetriever, MarketWatch

Brian is a Dad, husband, and an IT professional by trade. A Personal Finance Blogger since 2013. Who, with his family, has successfully paid off over $100K worth of consumer debt. Now that Brian is debt free, his mission is to help his three children prepare for their financial lives and educate others to achieved financial success. Brian is involved in his local community. As a Financial Committee Chair with the Board of Education of his local school district, he has helped successfully launch a K-12 financial literacy program in a six thousand student district.

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