Every year, my husband asks me why I love Christmas so much. I think he checks to see if my answers/reasons will change. And sometimes they do! Every year I have something different and fun to look forward to and every year, I have new ideas for my perfect Christmas. This is mostly due to the fact that every year we spend the holiday in a different place. One year it’s with my family in the U.S., the other it’s with my husband’s in Europe. So each year is different for us!
This year, I finally get to spend Christmas in my own home. The last time I had a Christmas tree was in 2015. After moving to Brno, we were always traveling during December and never had opportunities to put up a tree. This is one of my favorite things to do for Christmas preparations, so I’ve definitely missed it. I’ll have to do a Christmas decoration update once I’ve got all of my stuff ready!
Anyway, so in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share with you the 10 things that I think make Christmas so special!
1. All the Pretty Lights & Warmth
If you know me in real life, you know I’m obsessed with lights. I have a set of warm Christmas lights around my TV all year round for some romantic and relaxing mood lighting (let’s be real, they’re mostly there because they are soooo pretty). I love candles, fireplaces and anything else that gives off a warm glow. So it should come as no surprise that I absolutely love Christmas lights. I’ve already bought a bunch of strands for decorating and my staircase may already be wrapped with lights. I also love it when the streets and shops are lit up in the city, it’s like the city takes on a whole different character!
2. Feasts, Sweets & Eggnog
Obviously, I love food, and so I love any opportunity to overindulge on Christmas goodies. As a Polish girl married to a Slovak, our Christmas in Brno will have quite a variety of food choices for Christmas Eve dinner. Obviously, I will have to make my pierogis and red borsch soup and makowiec cake. Pair that with a bunch of traditional Slovak food, it is sure to be a feast and I will be gorging myself at the table. I can’t help it, it’s like the world makes Christmas dinner the most delicious dinner of the year on purpose. Nothing beats home cooking and cultural Christmas dishes.
And let’s not forget all the cookies and eggnog (and adult eggnog)! Cookies and cakes are another Christmas must-have. The amount of Christmas themed cocktails I’ve found is astounding and I’m absolutely ready for them!
3. Christmas Markets
They aren’t as common in the U.S. (I’m not even sure they’re a thing there), but Christmas markets are quite the attraction in Europe. Every city hosts their own Christmas market (or Advent market). Brno, a city of around 300,000, has their Christmas market spread out across 5 main squares. It’s unbelievable how enormous it is. But it is so much fun.
Christmas markets generally have everything from hot alcoholic drinks to crafts stands, to all sorts of food stands. There’s also music, attractions for kids, attractions for adults and all in all a good atmosphere. Here’s a video of how packed it can get for the lighting ceremony in Brno!
In the past, we’ve visited the Christmas markets in Prague, Krakow, and Poprad. This year, we’ve booked a stay in Zagreb for the weekend before Christmas to go and view what is called the most beautiful Christmas market in Europe. We are so excited and I’m certainly hoping there will be snow!
4. Spending Time with Friends and Family
Part of the Christmas spirit comes from being able to spend time with loved ones. This is the time of year where everyone makes time for you. You get to see your friends, your family and call your family if they are too far away. We never spend a Christmas Eve dinner alone. We generally alternate families and spend it with people we love and care about. There’s nothing better than filling your stomach with Christmas Eve dinner, opening presents and then playing board games until we fare too tired to keep going. Christmas, to me, isn’t the same without family or when you spend it with people you don’t really care about. I know some people go and travel to new places during Christmas, but for me, it’s the time to spend at home, surrounded by happy, cheerful people.
5. Christmas Cheer
People are generally much nicer during the Christmas season. I don’t care that a holiday has made people nicer, I just care that people being nicer means having a more pleasant December. Sometimes people can be grumpy and rude (I’m thinking Black Friday weekend), so it’s great to have less of that stress and grumpiness during this wonderful time of the year. I love the sound of happy children, friends laughing, families talking, binge-watching feel-good holiday movies and donating time or money to charities. All of that represents Christmas cheer to me.
6. Fa la la la la, la la la la!
There’s no other time of year that has such a wide and eclectic variety of music devoted to one holiday or season. Christmas music is and always will be and if you can’t seem to get into the Christmas mood because there’s no snow on the ground, all you need is to play some Christmas music and you’ll be singing along and looking forward to Christmas in no time! Every year, I play Christmas music on repeat as soon as it’s socially acceptable to press play and I won’t stop until the new year. It’s just something that has to be done.
7. Christmas Vacation
There’s no better time to take off than the week after Christmas. Especially if you are going to travel and visit friends and family who are a bit farther away. But mainly, I view the week after Christmas as the time to lounge around, enjoy your time with your partner or family, and to just relax. It may not be a getaway to a tropical island (who says it can’t be?), but it’s definitely a nice to take some time off.
8. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
I love everything from wooden reindeer to Santa Clause and wreaths and garlands. I think Christmas decorations make or break a home’s Christmas spirit. The lack of it makes it feel cold and uninviting during this wonderfully warm (ironic, eh?) time of the year. That’s why I love decorating my home for Christmas. I want to bring the Christmas spirit into the home and people’s hearts. It also brings back memories from when I was a child and decorated with people like my grandparents or my parents.
9. Let it Snow!
This may not always be a given, depending on where you live. In New England, where my parents live, it’s most likely that there will be snow on the ground on Christmas Day. Other places, like Brno, are less likely (in Brno, we are happy if the snow stays on the ground for at least 4 hours, since it usually melts as soon as it hits the ground). So even though I most likely won’t get any snow this year, I definitely love it and consider it a symbol of Christmas!
10. The Christmas Tree
In New England, it’s common for families to trudge through the snow on a tree farm and cut down a tree for their home. We used to do this with my father, but since I’m in Europe this year, I most likely will be buying a pre-cut tree. The tree, to me, reminds me of my childhood and how much I just loved to dress the tree. We have a box of ornaments that were gathered throughout the years from when I was a kid, and each year they went up, proudly on display. Dressing the tree is something that families often do together at the beginning of the season (the worst is having to take it down, though) and it’s a symbol of togetherness and a happy and warm home. I love dressing the tree with my family while chatting, listening to Christmas tunes and joking around.
The Christmas season is all about good cheer, friends and family, appreciating the time you have together and slowing down a little. I recently watched a commercial that showed a woman who had all these reasons to do something, prepare something and wash something, instead of sitting down with her family and relaxing. You don’t have to wash the floors (no one will notice), you don’t have to bake that extra cake (someone else can make one), you don’t have to run around finishing all these errands. What you can do, instead, is spend time with your family and that’s all that matters.
What do you find special about Christmas?