Growing up, Christmas was always a fun time for me. I have great memories of Navidad in Puerto Rico, especially. I remember the vibrant music, fun spirit everyone seemed to be in, and the food. Oh, the food! The traditional Puerto Rican Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) dinner is one that I still love to this day.
In fact, one of the things I most remember is making pasteles during the weeks leading up to Christmas. Pasteles are a Puerto Rican dish made with green bananas and filled with pork, potatoes, and a few other ingredients that everyone customizes to their liking. They are typically served as part of the Nochebuena dinner and take all day to make. Because of that, my parents would set aside an entire weekend for making pasteles and each member of our family had their own task in the process. From peeling and grating the bananas, to cooking the filling, and finally assembling and tying the pasteles, each person’s task was instrumental.
I remember my father would put the radio on and we’d listen to traditional aguinaldos (Puerto Rican Christmas folk music) as we cooked and made pasteles. I grew to love this accidental tradition and looked forward to it each year. As I got older, I began to ask what day was going to be pasteles day so I could be sure to know ahead of time.
As I look at my own family now, I’m not sure that we’ve yet created a holiday tradition of our own. We put up a Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations. We wait until Christmas Eve to put the gifts under the tree and open them up bright and early on Christmas morning before even eating breakfast. But, I feel we have yet to find our way in traditions – formal ones anyway.
Photo © modernmami
One thing we do have is that we have a couple of Christmas countdown “calendars” that our baby girl enjoys updating each day to count down the days until Christmas. This year a new one has been added to our decorations that is super fun. Thanks to Hallmark, we now have a Christmas countdown radio ornament, their North Pole Countdown Keepsake Ornament, which provides special messages each day from the North Pole. My girl is definitely enjoying the fun messages each day from NOLE 1225 (the radio station’s name)!
Something else that has happened just about every year and that has jokingly become a tradition between my husband and I, is that we end up wrapping our children’s gifts late at night on Christmas Eve. For some reason, this always gets left until the last minute and we somehow find ourselves staying up late on Christmas Eve wrapping their gifts. It’s kind of become our own tradition, I suppose.
What holiday traditions do you remember from your childhood? What new traditions do you celebrate with your family?
Disclosure: This story is sponsored by Hallmark through their Life is a Special Occasion campaign. As always, all stories and opinions are my own. To receive special offers and discounts from Hallmark, sign up for their e-newsletter!