Sunday, December 15, 2013

Parenting Tip - Pass on Your Heritage and Traditions

Everyone comes from somewhere. 

Duh, that was an intelligent sentence.  What I meant was, that if you trace your roots back far enough, you will find that you come from some country other than the United States.  It's fun to find out where that is.  For some families, it may be several countries, but no matter where your ancestors come from, it's often enlightening to see just where that is.

My mother's ancestors came from Sweden.  My mother is 100% Swedish and I am half.  My children are one quarter Swedish and my grandchildren are 1/8.  It is so heartwarming to see my grandchildren embrace their Swedish heritage as their parents pass on the traditions that they enjoyed as children.

Yesterday, December 13 was St. Lucia's Day.  This is celebrated in Sweden as the day when darkness will begin to recede and light will gradually stay more during the day.  It also commemorates a young girl, Santa Lucia, who brought food to the poor.  It is traditional to observe St Lucia's Day by dressing the oldest daughter in the family in a white dress, tied with a crimson sash. Candles are set into her crown, which is covered with lingonberry leaves.  She then wakens her family in the morning, bringing them rolls and a warm drink.

My aunt and her daughter would waken my family in this manner on St Lucia's Day when I was a child.  When I grew up, I dressed my eldest daughter, Faith, in the traditional white dress, sash and crown and we went around town waking up my family members and Swedish friends.  She was 3 when we started this tradition and carried it on until she was in junior high, then passed it on to her younger sister who passed it on to my last daughter.  This year, that daughter, (married -but with no children yet) made rolls and shared the tradition with her friends at work.

My eldest daughter-who just had a baby-shares this tradition with her children in their school classes.  Each year her 2 daughters dress in their white dresses and crowns and tell the history of St Lucia to their classmates.  Her son doesn't dress up, of course, but loves to share the day with his class also.

I got to go with my grandchildren to their school classes this year and share our tradition.  Their teachers were so welcoming and enthusiastic.  My daughter even has the students make their own paper crown headband, then they parade around the classroom while the music, Santa Lucia, is playing.  Each of the teachers get a plate of St. Lucia rolls and the students get a candy cane.

What traditions do you continue to use that have been passed down from your ancestors?

What traditions do you begin, that your borrow from something or someplace meaningful to you?

One of my sons served a two year  mission for our Church to Germany.  Presently he is writing his doctorate dissertation in a field of research having to do with Germany, and he has returned several times to Germany for research.   His family is connected to Germany on different levels.  Recently they began a German tradition of ...well, I can't remember.  Ammon, please comment and tell us about your German Christmas tradition.

Merry Christmas,
thanks for reading,

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