December 06, 2010

Christmas Memories, Part II.

(Please click 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.

Never forgetting our central European origins, we kept many of the traditions of our Slavic roots, nevertheless also tried to integrate with the new society and thus allowed ourselves to be assimilated by the Scandinavian Christmas traditions.
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...

The warmth of these almost twelve years of traditional celebrations in Sweden was what laid base to those I established as a young adult. My very own Christmas was born in North Carolina, where I lived for almost a decade.
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.

38 comments:

laoi gaul~williams /I\ said...

its lovely heaing of your traditions and the places you have been~thank you :)

Ann Nichols said...

Such lovely reflections, Zuzana! The photo of you and your sister is one of capturing a great moment.
Happy St. Nicholas Day!
Ann

Elizabeth said...

Hej Sweety,

Hope the preparations last weekend went well and you all had a lot of fun.

e.

jean luc said...

Always nice to discover another traditions , and i know how slavic traditions are beautiful for x-mas !
thanks for sharing , and your words are poetry , dear Zuzana.
Kiss kiss from France

Sandy at Teacup Lane said...

That is such a beautiful photo of you and your sister! I hope you have it framed and up on your wall!

My brother loves to play chess and is quite good at it. He belongs to some chess clubs in the Cleveland area and has Slovak and Czech friends he plays with frequently.

I, too, miss having Christmas with our parents. It isn't the same without them. We have been lucky to continue to spend Christmas with our brothers since the passing of our parents.

My Mother didn't go over board decorating. We had a small home and no basement just an attic to store stuff so she just put out a few things and of course a tree. My Dad didn't put lights outside until after he was retired and living in Florida. My parents and my hubby's parents alway made Christmas special maybe that is why I love it so much.

Thanks for sharing your memories!

Gaston Studio said...

Starting your own traditions and passing them along to your own chilren are what life and change is all about Zusana, as you've so clearly expressed in this lovely post.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Such wonderful memories. Embracing traditions makes it even more meaningful. Happy Christmas!

GrandmaK said...

I am so happy you have such wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing these wonderful cherished gifts. I certainly cherish mine. Thanks be to God!!! Cathy

Bossy Betty said...

Lovely traditions and memories! Thanks for sharing them!

Susan Deborah said...

Zuzana, your vivid memories lighten us all. I liked the last picture of the ladies in black! How elegant and sexy you both look. Every family has its own tradition that way and over time that particular tradition becomes a custom and the cycle goes on. Thanks for all these delectable treats, dearest Zuzana. I feel I know you better as days go on :)

Joy always,
Susan

Myrna R. said...

Thank you Zuzana for sharing such warm memories. I love the photo of you and your sister.

Kath said...

Beautifully written as ever. I loved the photo of you 2 girls, how slender and glamorous :D

Claus said...

How interesting - and true - that there's a point in life when one goes a different direction with your own "twist" of events. My brother's mother-in-law passed away last week, and because of the season, I couldn't help but to think about the new path life will take for both my SIL and her sister. From now own, their very own life, with traditions, customs and principles of growing years and years with their complete family, but on their own.
How different to start your own life because you want to, and not because life changing events that force you to.
Lovely pictures! and beautiful trees! I like the one with little candles on the branches :o)
have a lovely day!!

Brian Miller said...

lovely zuzanna...i miss many of the traditions that we had growing up...most especially gathering at gramma'shouse...so many warm memories there...

ladyfi said...

That is indeed a wonderful and oh so happy picture of you and your sister that sums up some of the joy of Christmas.

Bachelor said...

Zuzana,
What an interesting life you have live in terms of where you have lived in your childhood and adult life. Thank you for sharing these interesting traditions with us.. and yes...I'll have another one of the mulled wines and ginger biscuits. :) The Bach
Lord Thomas of Wellington

Bachelor said...

oh... btw...great pic of your sister and you.... :)

Absolutely Ladylike said...

Dearest Zuzana, I remember last year you also had a similar series and I just love those Scandinavian Christmas traditions you mentioned, such as the Advent candles and Glogg :-)I usually go to Hungary or Norway for Xmas but I spend most of the time here in China in December. Well it's not easy to have the Xmas feeling over here LOL...yesterday we had 26 Celsius and while I really enjoyed the warm day I have to admit that I'm missing the winter magic a little bit...

Love the picture of you and your sister...I hope one day we will have a chance to meet dearest Zuzana...

Much love to you: Evi

Lynne said...

I've loved reading about your traditions and looking at your photos. Sweden for me is a magical place at Christmas.

Mimi said...

Hi Zuzana, I'm loving this series, and so hope that there's a part 3.
Such is the tapestry of life, that we take some parts of our childhood traditions, and weave them with our own, and those of close ones in our lives- partners, friends.
I still miss some of the traditions from my childhood, but it would be impossible to keep all of them.
One of my husband's that we took on was that Santa wrapped each individual present- we, being a family of 7, never got that!
Each year, at wrapping time, I would be impatient and fed up, but now it's all vouchers and money for those little people who have grown up!

adrielleroyale said...

Thank you for sharing and teaching about the traditions held in your Christmas Season - It's so fun to learn these things! I wish these kinds of things were discussed in school or something, otherwise I'd never think about it until stumbling into your world. :) Truly it is a pleasure to walk through it with you in this way!

Just_because_today said...

Part II, hoping for III and IV.
You look so happy in those pictures. I have found that as close as I am to my family, the memories I create with friends are by far some of the happiest.
I, too, immigrated and adopted new traditions while keeping mine alive. It is a wonderful combination like combining new ingredients to create the best meal.
Love post.

steviewren said...

The photo of you and your sister is gorgeous. You are both quite beautiful.

Like you, I've combined old and new traditions to come up with a Christmas celebration that makes the best of all. This weekend my children will come here. We'll make gingerbread houses with the children. This is one of our new traditions.

Ps I bought a can of Swedish gingersnaps at World Market yesterday. Yum, yum, yum. I love their thin crispy, peppery goodness!

sprinkles said...

You and your sister are both very pretty!

I've never had to spend a Christmas away from my parents. I don't live with them anymore but I always go over on Christmas day and spend the day with them. I can't imagine what it'll be like without them but I know one day I'll have to.

LadyCat said...

You have such rich traditions and warm memories. That is so very special this time of year. You and your sister are both so lovely : )

Sumandebray said...

it was another beautiful episode! Hope there will be more!

swenglishexpat said...

Long time no see, Zuzana. What a lovely post. You describe most of the things I expect to experience when I go to Sweden for Christmas. I like the fact that every family, or individual, adds something to the traditional Christmas of their country. You have the basics and then you top it up with your own ideas. Wonderful.

daylily (Queenmothermamaw) said...

It is wonderful hearing of your Christmas traditions. With all the commercialization of Christmas in the US and other places, I find it had to see my grands take on new and leave off the old real meaning of Christmas traditions. Of course when they come Papaw and Mamaw's all the old is still here and they love it. Blessing Zuzana and your family and friends. You are a strong woman.
QMM

Donna said...

Beautiful photo of you and your sister, Zuzana. I loved hearing about your traditions.

Hugs,
Donna

Aunt Amelia's Attic said...

Thank you for another beautiful post, full of lovely memories. And the photos of you and your sister, are stunning.

Gentle Winter hugs...

Roger Gauthier said...

I read your post with a touch of sadness, Zuzana. Don't misunderstand me, it's very interesting and touching. At the same time, I no longer celebrate with my own family (mother, brother, sisters...) because I've become an outcast, no other words. So I do celebrate with my own immediate family, my wife and children, and of course with a lot of friends that still tolerate me apparently.

I've got to move on.

Roger

Jill said...

It is not easy to leave old tradition behind and grasp and keep new...but it eventually becomes familiar and wonderful, yes?

LOVE the photograph of you and your sister.

Rustique Gal said...

Zuzana, Thank you for sharing your traditions with us. I love the warm feeling we get this time of year with families, friends and fire and light. Your pictures are lovely, and you are right, we must be kindred spirits!
Enjoy your holidays,
Sherry

SandyCarlson said...

Thank you for sharing your beautiful traditions. Thank you for you.

tony said...

Zuzana. It's Great To Hear How You Have Distilled The Essence + Magic & Made It You Own .The Wonders Of Christmas Keeps Us Warm (& I bet, The Glögg helps too!!!!!)

Zuzana said...

Laoi, Ann, Elizabeth, Jean Luc, Sandy, Gaston Studio, Keats, Cathy, Betty, Susan, Myrna, Kath, Claudia, Brian, ladyfi, The Bach, Evi, Lynne, Mimi, adrielle, Myriam, Stevie, sprinkles, LadyCat, Sumandebray, swenglishexpat, QMM, Donna, Amelia, Roger, Jill, Sherry, Sandy and tony - I am so happy that you did not get too bored reading about the recollections of my Christmas past.;)
And I thoroughly enjoyed reading your own. There will not be a part three or four, although I am flattered some of you would wish for that.;) Perhaps in a few years when I look back upon my time in Demark, I might recollect again.

Thank you all for always taking the time to stop by and particularly taking the time to read what I write, leaving wonderful and heart-warming comments and compliments.

Xoxo
Zuzana

Hope Despite Depression said...

I love, love, LOVE the pictures you share from memories past!

I love how you have been able to combine so many different traditions into one unique one - you're own...

And it's true - as time goes by things never stay the same, but as long as we keep our own traditions alive in our hearts those dear to us will always be near to us...

((Hugs))
Christine

Michael Manning said...

A delightful photograph and the memories you shared tell me you have celebrated Christmas well. I hope to do the same!!!