I don’t know what you celebrate this time of the year.
As for me, I grew up in Portugal, a country born thanks to a Pope and some Noblemen Christian fanatics (a.k.a. crusaders) who wanted to have an entirely Christian nation that they could use as a standpoint to kick out the “infidele” (mind you, the people they wished to kick out had actually been living in that area for generations and, independent of religious believes, got along fine until that decision was made!).
What they really wanted though, was to overpower the merchants from northern Africa who were, in fact, the middle-men between the Asian markets and the Venician salesmen. It was all about the money and power in the end. Oh, the humanity…
Anyway, enough history there. The point being that our our traditional celebrations this time of the year are very much based on Christian believes.
I wouldn’t say my family is Catholic. We’ve never been to midnight mass or really put up a nativity scene at home. But on the eve of the 25th of December, we do take the opportunity to come together over a lovely meal and catch up on what went on throughout the year.
Then on the 25th itself, we meet up with the extended family and it’s time to catch up with everyone we didn’t have the chance to see as often as we’d liked throughout the year.
Although we’re not Catholics (other Portuguese people would call themselves “non-practising Catholic”), Christian traditions have obviously spilled into our family traditions!
Our meal on the 24th of December is extremely important to us and mustn’t involve meat or anything too fancy. For every Portuguese family following a traditional approach to Christmas eve, this is a codfish meal. Each family will have its own way of cooking the salted cod, but there won’t be many families in Portugal without the basics: cod, potatoes, green veggies.
For me and my nuclear family it is never about the presents but the opportunity to be together, build memories, talk about the year that has been and enjoy the last week before a new year comes along.
So, even if you come from a culture different to my own, with other traditions based on other religious believes, I do hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the last week of 2012 with those you love!
In the spirit of celebration, I thought I’d share some holiday outfits.