Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cookies for the Holy Family

If you're looking to start a new Christmas Eve tradition in your home, this tidbit might be of interest to you.

According to this month's Magnificat, the Irish tradition on Christmas Eve involved families preparing a meal for the Holy Family and setting the table with three place settings for them. Afterward, they left the doors unlocked or even wide open and put more wood on the hearth, so the Holy Family would have a place to rest and bless their home. This tradition was especially important to the Irish during the persecution when priests were not allowed to say Mass and Catholics were not able to receive the sacraments except in secret. They placed a candle in the windows of their home to signify to the priests that they were Catholic and that the priest could come in and say Holy Mass. It is said that on Christmas Eve special graces came to them and to all of us.

Today, families in Ireland have simplified the tradition by leaving a tray of cookies and fruit for the Holy Family with a set table of three plates for Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Since most of us grew up with setting a plate of cookies for Santa Claus, perhaps this is a great way to replace that tradition with one centered on Christ!


Right Said Red said...

Love it! What a great idea. Thanks B-mama!

Mary Alice said...

I didn't know that about the candles, it is very interesting.

When we split hairs or worry about secular traditions creeping in, this reminds me to be thankful that we have free practice of religion.

We always do lots of baking at the holidays, and this year our parish is putting together trays of cookies which will be used at a Christmas party for the needy. It is sometimes hard to find a service project that the kids can really understand, but they are all about Christmas cookies, so they have eagerly joined in on this one!

Right Said Red said...

Oh, and as an aside, I thought the piece in the magnificat about Irish Christmas traditions was really cool. Maybe because I'm Irish ;-)

If you are looking for additional Christmas traditions, be sure to check out Merideth Gould's The Catholic Home. I have found her book to enlighten me on the history of our families traditions, as well as give great suggestions for things to add. While it is hard to add much during this busy time, her suggestions for other feast days like Epiphany or the Assumption are very helpful for celebrating the liturgical year with our family.