here to read part I)
The Christmas celebrations that I recall most vividly are the ones that were spend in Sweden, whereto my family immigrated when I was thirteen and where I lived until I was twenty five.
Upon our escape to the west, when we found ourselves as political refugees, my family became a very closed knit one and still is today. Thus Christmas, which highlights the value of family and celebrates those who are us near, was always a very joyful and infinitely happy time that I recollect today with absolute fondness.
Such as the Advent observance, which turned December into a month of celebration, when the house became illuminated by multitude of candles. Particularly the lighting of Calendar Candle and the opening of Christmas Calendars became a wonderful daily ritual as we counted impatiently down to Christmas Eve. The weeks were filled with scents and tastes that are so significant of this special time, such as Glögg, a type of mulled wine, a very traditional Christmas drink in Scandinavia, the ginger biscuits and the saffron buns, baked on Saint Lucia Day.
Among all this, the perfumes of the traditional Slovak and Czech holidays cuisine kept us close to our origins and reminded us of the culture we once came from, bridging the past and the present in a poetic way...
It was here that I for the very first time decorated my home for the Holidays, trimmed the tree and started slowly to combine the traditions that I have carried with me from my past, all the way from childhood. Slowly, Christmas became a holiday that I no longer celebrated with my parents, but with my friends. It was difficult at first, but I realized quickly that all the love and happiness I felt once in the past, when I was a child or a teenager, resonated still within me.
I realized that I was capable of creating my own traditions, the ones that would dictate a new direction of the Holiday celebrations that would become my very own.