Friday, December 30, 2011

Joyeux Noël

Greetings!  I'm back with Part II of the Morgan 2011 Christmas Recap. :)

(You can catch up with Part I here...  It covers Christmas Eve, a new donut breakfast tradition, Christmas morning, Christmas with our Morgan family, and a couple of holiday appetizer recipes).

You might remember me telling you about my family's tradition of celebrating Christmas around the world.  (I mentioned it here and here).  Basically, my Mom came up with the idea a few years ago to change up our family Christmas by choosing a foreign country each year, and to plan our celebration around its unique Christmas customs.  We usually choose one person to coordinate the research, planning, menu etc.  This year, my sister Brianne did a great job hosting "le jour de Noël"
...Christmas Day in France!
The older grandchildren usually get tasked with making a map and/or flag, as pictured here.

A few highlights from la fête de Noël...

 Le Réveillon (Christmas Feast)

The Christmas menu varies by region in France, so we welcomed the liberty to pick and choose any French dishes that sounded most appetizing.  (Side note: we don't usually hold ourselves to a traditional holiday menu for each country.  We had cheese dip tacos and margaritas when we celebrated Mexican Christmas Eve!)  Planning and preparing the meal is one of the best parts about Christmas around the World, so go all out if you're goin!

Apple Crisp Baked Brie Recipe

I made this brie bake as an appetizer, and it was good!  Click the caption above for link to recipe.  We also had a toddler-friendly cheese, fruit, and cracker plate that included some authentic cheeses as well as some basics.  The four children aged 2 and under were grateful. :)

Our main feast included... French onion soup, roasted chicken, quiche, potato casserole, baguettes, salad (added apples to linked recipe), and green beans.  I think it was our yummiest cultural Christmas meal yet!

After lunch, Père Fouettard (The Christmas Bogeyman) showed up and gave spankings to the bad children. :)  Oh my.

But, don't worry, he also pointed out the candy that Papa Noël left in everyone's shoes...


 ...as well as some candy and small toys hanging on the Christmas tree.  Side note: much to Matt's horror, Reed cried and threw a fit until someone would trade him for the orange and blue (gator-colored!) football!

 Next, we exchanged gifts with one another, played, took pictures, and broke up toddler gang fights.

Later that night, we enjoyed crème brûlée and a yule log (la bûche de noël).

My Dad ordered both desserts from a bakery, and bought a torch to caramelize the crème brûlée...
I'm no expert, but I don't think that's a dessert torch.  He said he needed one he could use for other projects too. :)  The guys were more than willing to play dessert chef!  HA.  In some parts of France, it is traditional to have thirteen different symbolic desserts ("treize desserts").  We opted not to go this route, but I bet if we counted all of the different cookies and candies we would have had 13 plus.


We hope you had a joyeux Noël! :)


Okay, last thing:  I had a new idea (I know, I know... me and my ideas. eye roll.) to adopt into our yearly celebration a small tradition from each country that we feature.  I am sure we will repeat countries in the years ahead, as Reed won't really remember anything from at least the first 5 or 6, so hopefully this won't become overwhelming.  But I am really excited about these.  So far, I have:


Mexico (2009)- In Mexico, the Nativity is central to the Christmas celebration, similarly to the Christmas Tree in the U.S.  Traditionally, families wait until Christmas Eve to place baby Jesus in the manger.  So that's an easy one to adopt.  It will be fun to make a big deal out of waiting for baby Jesus to "come on the scene!"

Italy (2010)- In learning about Italy last year, we read that Christmas is less commercialized there.  Instead of writing letters to Santa Claus, children write letters to their parents on Christmas Eve, telling them how much they love them.  This tradition definitely stands out to me from our celebration last year.  My Mom was the coordinator and tried to tell us that it was letters to fathers, but we had all seen the custom in our research, so we surprised her with letters to everyone.  My brother-in-law's mother joined us and had a letter too!  It was sweet words and blubbering all around.  I think maybe we will do a version of this where we each write a note to each other family member and drop them in stockings.  (Like the non-Italy-related version mentioned back here).

France (2011)- One of the unique customs in France is the hanging of gifts (fruit, candy, small toys) on the Christmas Tree.  It might vary each year, but I'm thinking we could either hang a specific present for each person somewhere on the tree, or maybe just some candy for the kids to collect.  We also have an ornament that opens up, so when the kids are older we can include a first clue to a Christmas gift hunt as an appropriation of this French tradition.  Matt is really excited about hiding gifts someday soon. :)  If we go the ornament route, (which is my favorite option I think), I'll write "Joyeux Noël 2011" on it.

This new custom appropriating idea is just one part of a new project I am really, really excited about.  I will be back to share it with you soon!! :)

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