Christmas is definitely my favorite time of year. It brings back so many great memories growing up on a farm in south east Saskatchewan. A Country Christmas is even more magical!
I miss those days for sure. But I like to carry on as many of the traditions that I can, from our days on the farm.
Christmas Eve Service
For example, I have never in my life missed a Christmas Eve church service until the pandemic. Last year, we watched a local church service on the internet. Although it filled the gap, it wasn’t quite the same.
There is nothing like a traditional Christmas Eve service to get you in the mood for Christmas cheer. We enjoy celebrating the birth of our Lord, watching the children re-enact the birth in the manger. There are alot of Christmas carols, while we light the candles collectively and sing O Holy Night. So magical that it puts you in that happy place. No matter what your current challenges in life are, you can put those aside for a few hours and celebrate.
In Saskatchewan, we always attended our Finnish Community Lutheran Church, and the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Growing up I was part of the children’s choir with my brother and sister. I even sang a solo once or twice, while I was brave enough. The country roads were often laden with snow-drifts. I remember the drive and how the tracks were quickly filled in by snow as we made our trek to and from the church in the evening hours. The church service itself was quite traditional. It included the requisite Christmas Hymns, a Children’s Nativity play, followed by a Christmas message and blessing. Candies were often given out to the children at the end of the service. These were very special times spent with family and community. Our hearts were full.
Below is a traditional advent candle arrangement with Finnish Iittala Festivo candlesticks and serving dishes. The table runner was made by a Swedish lady local to Vancouver Island. Tradition would have us light a candle each week of advent before Christmas.
We have just started to decorate our home for Christmas. And some of you who have been reading my blog have seen the changes with all of our renovations. I always try to incorporate some country decor touches and themes in my Christmas decorating.
Below is a traditional Finnish tapestry, in red of course.
It will be a lovely Christmas with our (in town) family and the first for us in our new home. That alone will be exciting. As we do every year, we bought a special tree ornament to represent the year. Of course, this year the ornament is a little house to represent our new home. On it we will paint 2021.
Christmas Letter Writing and Cards
We were busy last weekend finishing off our Christmas letter and getting Christmas cards written out. Each year we send about 60 – 70 cards to family and friends further away. We have been writing and sending a Christmas letter for the 27 years we have been married. I have been trying to collect all the years versions in one place and put them in a binder. This will be a great memory keepsake of our family and marriage together over the years. Many of my relatives in Finland do not speak English. I include a separate page with the Finnish google translation, along with a photo page of highlights from our year. I know that our friends and family who receive these are always happy that we have continued this tradition.
I have never been a huge baker. In fact, I used to buy my gingerbread from a co-worker, since I just didn’t have time to bake. But now, finally I have more time. Last year I tried a traditional Finnish recipe which I have posted, called Finnish Piparkakut – Ginger Cookies. I plan to make these soon for this year. Another traditional Finnish item is Pulla Bread. Sadly I still haven’t attempted it, but maybe this year! My cousin usually makes it, so I might be getting some this year from her again.
O Christmas Tree!
For the past several years, we had made a tradition of going to pick out a tree with the kids. But this year, we decided to buy a new artificial tree. It seems that the trees are getting so dried out by Christmas, no matter how much I water them. There is also an impending shortage of Christmas trees due to our floods in BC. So we decided to order one online and it arrived yesterday! So happy we will have plenty of time to decorate and invite the kids over to help. At least that part of the tradition will continue, with eggnog of course!
We finally got our lights up as of the 14th, and will have our grown kids over soon to finish decorating the tree. Some traditions are worth waiting for! I will post another picture of the final decorated tree in a few days!
Outdoor Decorations of course!
Our home has been decorated outside, thanks to my hubby who enjoys doing this each year. Usually I help with the lights, but this year he wanted to get a jump on that, so yay!
So magical! He has adding another 9 candy canes, so I will need to upload an updated picture!
Eve of Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!
Our family tradition for Christmas, is to always go for dinner to a Japanese restaurant prior to the big day. We have being doing that for at least the last 15 years now 🙂 It has become quite the tradition and the kids have been asking again this year, so since my hubby has just received his booster, we will be celebrating our annual event. The Japanese food is a nice diversion from the traditional Christmas spread and Christmas Eve appetizers, which follow soon after.
For our family and others with European roots, celebrating Christmas Eve is just as important as the big day itself. We would normally attend a Christmas Eve service, and then come home and enjoy a wide array of appetizers. After that we spend the evening together watching Christmas movies and usually open a few presents Christmas Eve. We leave the Santa gifts and stockings for morning.
Here are a few pictures from last year’s Christmas Eve spread, and tree of course!
Our village display from last year.
In Finland, Santa Claus is called Joulupukki. In 2000, I travelled to Finland with my mother and our son, and we also ventured to Rovaniemi. Santa Park is found there. It is touted as the real home of Santa Claus, being so close to the artic circle. Great memories! Our son was only 5 at the time and was enthralled with the magical kingdom of Joulupukki.
If you want to learn more about the Christmas village in Rovaniemi, you can find more info here.
Back at home, Santa still fills the stockings overnight when he visits, and then our morning will be followed by our kids coming home and opening their stockings, as well as enjoying Turkey Dinner, with my traditional Turkey Stuffing (Recipe here)!
So much food! OMG it’s the one time of year I don’t really keep track of what I have been eating. I just enjoy the moment and the celebrations with family and close friends who might be able to join us.
I have posted a few pictures of decorations so far, and will add more as we approach the big day! We both enjoy traditional decor, and 2 years ago we bought this Thomas Kinkade print “A Holiday Gathering” while we were on a cruise. We only just had it framed in time for Christmas this year. So lovely!
I hope you enjoy your holidays with family and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, the true meaning of Christmas.
More updates to follow as we decorate and celebrate more!
Country Christmas Music
A big part of Christmas will always be the Christmas hymns and carols. I love how the Country Artists also play a huge part in celebrating Christmas and bringing us new and old Christmas carols each year.
Don’t forget to go to my Country Music Calendar to find out what live and free Christmas and country music events are coming up in the next 2 to 3 weeks. All the twitter and instagram links are there for the country artists’ offical announcements to their live streams and events coming up. I follow over 800 artists now on social media to keep up with events and bring them to you each week on my calendar, all free! Country Music Calendar (link).
December 17th, 2021 – Update
Well we finally had family over last night to decorate the tree!! I always love this tradition. We also were able to have a lovely sit down meal together for the first time in a long time. I am looking forward to the next couple weeks of celebrations 🙂
We were also able to complete our Christmas Village display 🙂
December 22, 2021 – Update
It’s been a busy past few days getting some final shopping done as well as visiting with a couple of close friends before the holidays. We are on the verge of a lockdown here, with Omicron numbers rising faster than the Delta variant. There was a cluster of cases not far from where we live. I decided to finish my last visit on Monday with a two friends, one outside at a park and the other indoor dining at a restaurant. Now we are hunkered down for the rest of the holidays and I will see other friend hopefully after the booster shot is available. Luckily hubby has his already.
Well all of the prezzies are now wrapped and ready for the big night. We put on some Christmas tunes this afternoon and powered through it. The stockings were hung….
Keep checking back for more updates! Leave me a comment about your Christmas plans or favorite decorations 🙂
December 27th, 2021 – Final Update for this Christmas
Wow!! We had a wonderful family Christmas even though our numbers were small, we enjoyed the good company, watching a livestream Christmas service and then a wonderful assortment of food along with a movie. Christmas Day was our usual Turkey Dinner…omg so much food!
The food for Xmas Eve! Sorry for the fuzzy pictures 🙂
I made some homemade quiche, so quick and easy. I will need to post the recipe soon. Since my daughter is vegan, I made one with Rice Milk and no meat, the other regular.
I even made my Finnish Piparkakut Cookies Finnish Piparkakut – Ginger Cookies (recipe) in time for Christmas Eve!
My table setting for Christmas Day!
I hope you enjoyed this post, It’s a Country Christmas. See you next year!