On Christmas Eve, once the children have gone to bed, many parents around the globe sneak downstairs to help Santa deliver the gifts, as well as hide a Christmas pickle in the tree!
In the morning before anyone can open gifts, someone must find the pickle! By doing this, children can explore and appreciate all the ornaments on the tree. The colour of the pickle makes it quite hard to locate and can sometimes take a while to find.
This wonderful tradition teaches children teamwork, patience and to enjoy the moment. In a lot of households, children rush to the tree and start tearing open presents. By placing the pickle in the tree for a scavenger hunt, children are forced to stop and appreciate the moment, be patient and work together to find it.
This tradition, originally from Germany, has been adopted and modified by many different cultures. The person that finds the pickle is usually rewarded by receiving a special gift from under the tree, or they are allowed to open their present first.
Hide Your Broom!
This is quite the tradition to spark your imagination! It’s not common in North America to associate brooms and Christmas, but this Norwegian dates back centuries to when people were much more superstitious than they are today. They believed the evil spirits such as witches and ghost would come out on Christmas Eve looking for brooms to ride on. This is still a very popular tradition in Norway. Most people hide their brooms in their houses to avoid them being stolen.
Operation Christmas Child Boxes!
Tis’ the season of family, cheer and giving. Operation Christmas Child is a tradition started in Canada by the Samaritan’s Purse organization. They work with the community to create boxes full of goodies and personal products that children in difficult circumstances could use.
Christmas is different for everyone around the world not everyone is able to have a holiday full of gifts, family, feasts and festivities. These boxes bring so much joy to children in need and are quite fun to put together and wrap.
Get into the Christmas spirit with your family and friends and come together to create a couple of boxes. You can order packing party kits from their website, which include shoeboxes and other supplies.
When creating your Christmas box choose a gender and an age range you would like to make the present for. Find a shoebox and fill it with presents, wrap it (make sure the lid can still be removed), place an age range and gender sticker on it and drop it off at the closest donation location.
Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, colouring and picture books, etc.
Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets.
A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself, your family, or group. If you include your name and an address, the child may be able to write back.
For more information visit Operation Christmas Child.
Fill your Best Shoes with Hay and Vegetables
St.Nicholas day is the first major event in the advent calendar across many European countries. Celebrated on December 6th by Western European countries and Romania, December 5th in the Netherlands and on the 19th in Eastern European countries.
The evening before the feast of Saint Nicholas, children gather their favourite shoes and place them by the door or on a windowsill for St. Nicholas. Often filling their shoes with hay and vegetables for St. Nicholas’ horses. Traditionally, children would wake up to shoes filled with coins, fruit, sweets or smalls gifts (Shoe Sized).
13 Trolls of Christmas
This is very similar to the last one but with a very unique twist. In Icelandic folklore, there are 13 Yule Lads (Mischievous Trolls) of Christmas, each of which visits children for the 13 days before Christmas.
Each night of Yuletide, children place their favourite/best shoes by the window. Each night a different Yule Lad visits, leaving presents for good boys and girls and rotten vegetables for the naughty children.
They all have different personalities and backstories, along with some interesting names.
Stekkjastaur – Sheep-Cote Clod (Bugs sheep and has pegs legs)
Giljagaur – Gully Gawk (Hides in the gullies, waiting to scare cows and steal milk)
Stúfur – Stubby (Short and will steal pans to eat leftover crust)
Þvörusleikir – Spoon-Licker (Steals Spoons)
Pottaskefill – Pop- Scraper (Steals leftovers from pots)
Askasleikir = Bowl-Licker (Hides under beds waiting to steal bowls)
Hurðaskellir = Door Slammer (Likes to slam doors)
Skyrgámur – Skyr- Gobbler (Yule lad addicted to Skyr Yogurt)
Bjúgnakrækir – Sausage Swiper (Hides in the rafters and steals sausages)
Gluggagægir – Window-Peeper (Looks through windows for things to steal)
Gáttaþefur – Doorway-Sniffer (Has a very large nose)
Ketkrókur – Meat-Hook (Uses a hook to steal meat)
Kertasníkir – Candle-Stealer (Follows children to steal their candles)
Santas Runway (Luminaries)
Organize with the neighbours for children to cut and decorate brown paper bags to create a runway for Santa to land his sleigh on your street.
Once the bags are beautifully decorated, Christmas Eve place them at the bottom of your driveway before going to bed.
Spider Webs in the Christmas Tree
Ukrainian Christmas trees are traditionally decorated with a fake spider and web. The custom, which is said to bring good luck, stems from an old wives’ tale about a poor woman who could not afford to decorate her tree. She woke up on Christmas morning to find a spider had covered it in a glittering web.
Remember: There is no better present than being present!