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Christmas Tea and Other Holiday Traditions

By Marie Burns December 21, 2023 Lifestyle

As you can see, I wore another one of my grandmother’s hatsto our annual Christmas Tea for the women at my church this year. I’m not an expert but I think my black 100% wool felt hat was a version of a fedora. It also had scarf-like material stitched into the inner rim so I could cover my ears and tie it under my chin on a windy day. Can you tell I cheated and tucked that scarf fabric inside the hat since it was a non-windy, day?

Enjoying Christmas Tea

I always have such a lovely time visiting, nibbling, absorbing the beauty of the decorations, listening to the holiday music, and soaking in the message of the speaker. I see my sister, living states away, also attended a Christmas Tea recently. It seems they have become quite common. Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of Christmas Tea and learned a few interesting facts:

  • The temperance movement back in the 1800s influenced a shift in Christmas traditions from alcohol-centric to family-friendly gatherings.
  • The rise of afternoon tea then became more of a social custom.
  • Wassail became a holiday and special occasion tradition as a substitute for alcoholic beverages.
  • Christmas celebrations evolved more towards social gatherings and festive activities than the religious aspect.
  • Commercialization efforts by tea companies linked tea with Christmas cheer and gift-giving.

Take a Pause

Whatever reasons contributed to the popularity of Christmas Tea, I am in favor. It’s one of those ‘forced pauses’ that allows us to ‘stop and smell the roses’ over the holidays. During the hustle and bustle of this busy time of year, a pause is always a good thing.

What other holiday traditions do you enjoy? Or which ones have you let go by the wayside? It’s interesting to see what we did as children vs what we still do today.

Holiday Traditions

When I was a child, we had never heard of St. Nick’s Day. So when it became popular during the time our children were growing up, I had a hard time remembering to have the kids put out a shoe before bedtime for St. Nick’s overnight visit. My consistency with that tradition was bad so it never really took hold at our house.

Some families open gifts on Christmas Eve and others on Christmas morning or some variation in between. Some families hang stockings to be filled. Some families leave a note with cookies/carrots for Santa and his reindeer. Some families have a certain meal over the holidays (my husband’s family had Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve). Some families go to a movie theater on Christmas Day. Some families run to two or more houses on Christmas day. Some families celebrate holidays other than Christmas. So much variation!

The Importance of Traditions

No matter what the tradition, I think part of the value is in the fact that you have a tradition. It becomes part of who you are, what you value, and something you look forward to. There is no right or wrong here. If you grew up with a tradition you love, keep it. If you didn’t, then choose and start one you do love. It’s never too late!

I encourage you to intentionally think about your traditions, current and future. Really soak in the enjoyment of the current ones you intend to keep. But also give some thought to any you might want to start.

Appreciating Quiet Times

In this older and wiser time of life, I am noticing more quiet times. With four children, we were plenty busy until Empty Nester time. And now, there are 19 of us when we are all together (9 grandchildren keep the house noisy again). But between our together times, I see the opportunity to be totally in charge of the quiet time busyness.

One of my quiet time realizations is that end-of-year holiday time is a good traditional time for me to think about my intentions, hopes, and wishes for the next year. I’m a believer in New Year’s Resolutions. Even if you don’t fulfill them, the exercise of reflecting and then looking forward with intention is worth doing.

Good Intentions

Yay for me! Wearing this hat was one of my New Year’s Resolutions this past January (to wear my Grandmother’s hats more often)! I find it motivating to have a variety of new habits or projects I want to tackle. Some fun and some not so fun, but important nonetheless.

A Time for Reflections

Maybe a tradition of reflecting on the year in December should be our prerequisite for declaring our resolutions for the new year in January. If you’re like me, a reflection on the year may uncover the realization that everyone is aging. And all around us, we have friends/family dealing with illness, incapacity, and death.

This would fall under the ‘not so fun’ category of projects to consider in the new year but getting financially organized makes those stressful times go so much smoother. Tony Steuer, financial literacy guru, suggests the best place to start is with a FREE Get Ready Roadmap. It provides habits, an organizing guide, and tips plus a newsletter with weekly action items.

“I don’t want my family to deal with the aggravation I have gone through with my parents’ affairs…”

My Everyone Bundle provides the checklist tools and several options for completing your Get Your Financial House in Order project. One recent user shared “I don’t want my family to deal with the aggravation I have gone through with my parents’ affairs. The information in the checklists by far supersedes the information I found on other websites. I have saved so much time by utilizing your checklists.”

If you don’t already, I encourage part of your holiday traditions to include a personal reflection on your year. And then, more importantly, to turn that into your intentions for the year ahead. Traditions are a wonderful part of life, make this one you do for yourself.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What holiday traditions from childhood do you still enjoy today? What new traditions have you incorporated into your holidays? Do you have a favorite or least favorite one? Let’s have a conversation!

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I enjoyed going carolling door to door. It is not so common anymore.

Marie Burns

You are so right, carolling is a rare treat these days. I loved being in the singing group or the receiving group on the other side of the door. Such a good feeling either way!

Judith Louise

TRADITION is COMFORTING: There has just been the two of us for the past fifty years. Unfortunately we were not able to have children. A loss that we still feel today. Ours is a relative quiet house. But I decorate the Christmas tree, hang two Christmas stocking.We fill each other stocking with sweet Christmas treats and small gifts for each other. Under the Christmas tree we place larger gifts for each other. Over the years we have learnt to ‘mark’ Christmas. Otherwise it just becomes an ordinary day. So……. I make a Christmas cake which I cut in half and freeze one half for the days that follow. I make Christmas pudding and custard. I make shortbread because it keeps well. I roast my own nuts tossed in yummy spices. Over the Christmas week I ensure that our meals are unique to Christmas and not eaten at any other time of the year. In the week ahead of Christmas we play christmas carols. My husband has been seriously ill for the whole year. With several stays in hospital. I was so thrilled to have him come home three days before Christmas. Consequently this year I have had to create a dialysis friendly Christmas. Being a ‘home’ cook it proved easy and rewarding.

Marie Burns

How wise you are to make the most of traditions regardless of how many of you are celebrating! And spacing out your special activities over the season makes for more days of enjoyment. You are a wonderful example of evolving with life to still enjoy the comfort of tradition regardless of what is happening in life at the moment. Thank you!

Toni Stritzke

I like to bring out the decorations that I’ve collected or have been given to me over the years. Some are school made efforts from children and grandchildren. Some are presents from students. One is a tiny peg doll angel, made by a little girl in my class. It was my first year teaching in remote Australia. She has sheep wool for hair, Christmas fabric for her dress, a cinnamon stick glued to her back and two little eucalyptus leaves for wings. Each year I renew her wings from trees in my garden. She has come to symbolise the new life I forged for myself and my children in a new country and is a powerful reminder of the good luck I received by moving here.

Marie Burns

Love that you are using decorations to recherish memories and gratefulness in your life. Thank you for sharing!

Renee Lovitz

My sister and I went to a Christmas Tea yesterday which was very nice.
Still do a tree as well.

Marie Burns

Glad you are continuing traditions that you enjoy!


The Author

Marie Burns, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), advocates for women’s financial health. She is an author of a financial checklist book series, speaker, podcast host and partners with clients to offer friendly financial advice in her independent practice Visit her at or

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