Christmas Traditions

Mrs Fox's Christmas inspirations
Tammis Twinkle Angels fabric by Michael Miller    -    Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet       -     Mrs Fox's Fergal Fox
I remember those lessons at primary school around this time of the year, when you were taught about the different Christmas traditions around the world.  I have confused but vivid images of Dutch children filling their clogs with carrots and peppernoot and being chased around with a stick by Zwarte Piet (Black Peter).  As a 6 year old who loved playing chase and was quite a fast runner, I remember thinking it sounded like a lot of fun, and wished I was Dutch for a week or two.

While these international traditions are eye opening and horizon broadening and all those other good things.  It’s the personal family traditions around Christmas, no matter how small, that are the most evocative.  Even with the most common traditions, advent calendars and letters to Father Christmas, it's the memories from your childhood and it's in the details of each family's actions that a personal tradition begins.  

Do you get to eat the advent chocolate as soon as you get up or once you’ve been a good girl/boy that day?  Do the presents get left under the tree or at the foot of the bed?  What goes into the Christmas stocking?  The year that our presents began to be delivered to the tree rather than in the old pillow case at the end of the bed, where I could feel the reasuring weight with my toes.  I thought Father Christmas had forgotten me.

Growing up my family always had ham and boiled eggs for Christmas breakfast and in those days before “posh” coffee was the norm this was the one time my mother’s cafetier would get used.  There was also a set of tiny brightly etched glasses that came out at Christmas and we would get to use them during our Christmas meal but at no other time.  A lot of my family’s Christmas traditions seem to revolve around food and to this day I am still obsessed with good coffee and pretty vintage glasses.

Since having children I have thought more consciously about these traditions and we, like every other family, have developed our own.  Christmas breakfast is still always ham and boiled eggs.  The stocking from the fireplace goes onto the end of the children's beds, but the rest of the children's gifts go under the tree in large hessian sacks I made for them adorned with the Michael Miller fabric above.   We make Christmas decorations every year, one of our favourites is our paper angels.  

I always make at least one gift for each of the children every year.  We have an elf who comes to stay.   And our letters to and from Father Christmas are a very important family tradition.  Our letters were inspired by my love of JRR Tolkein, I read that every year his children received a letter from Father Christmas, written in spidery handwriting and illustrated with little pen and ink drawings. 

Letters From Father Christmas by JRR Tolkien

I eventualy found a book of Tolkein's letters.  The letters are all about life at the North Pole;  the reindeer, the accident-prone North Polar Bear and the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house.  And I have to admit I have stolen the handwriting and many of the ideas.  My children love polar bears since watching a documentary on them last Christmas and so I think the North Polar Bear is likely to make an appearance this year's letter.

So, on the first day of December our elf named Brian arrives.  We really should have made our own elf, but I have to admit Brian is from Elf on the Shelf.  Una named him Brian ,I don’t really know why.  Every night up until Christmas Eve he moves to a different spot in the house.  The children must not touch him, or his magic disappears, but he sees everything and will report back to Father Christmas if they have been “naughty or nice”.  Which is quite a useful thing during the festive season!  The children write a letter to Father Christmas including their Christmas list, shortly after Brian has arrived and he delivers it.  Then on Christmas Eve they'll receive a letter back. 

This year in the run up to the Christmas Mrs Fox's is going to be publishing post about our Christmas traditions and Christmas crafts to do with the children including; snowman cookies, cotton reel and pine cone elves, paper angels, snowflakes and chains to mention a few.  Christmas card making and gift wrapping ideas and we've some free printable gift tags.  Reviews of Channel Four's new Snowman animation, some of our favourite Christmas books, Folksy finds and treasures from Mrs Fox's Bazaar and Mrs Fox's Handmade.

I love Christmas, I'm sooo looking forward to this...


  1. Nina, your family have such lovely traditions. We've started some of our own with Rosa, this weekend we'll visit the Christmas tree farm to pick our tree. I'm looking forward to decorating it with her. xoxo Nicola

  2. Thanks Nicola. How is beautiful Rosa?
    And did you see the free advent calendar from Mibo I posted about, you'd love their designs.


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