Being of Ukrainian ethnic origin, I have memories of many old European traditions that seem to be fading into oblivion here in our "affluent?" society of today. (Or is it just our North American society?) I don't know which. What I do know that our old European heritage ways were rich and vibrant with cultural traditions that were more than just Santa Claus and presents under the tree.
They were watching for that first star to appear in the heavens so we could start a supper that was served on a table over a bed of straw brought to the house by Dad that evening to represent a stable. To further the "stable atmosphere", the meal contained no meat, no milk, and no egg products, in honour of the animals that shared their humble abode with the Christ Child who had been refused lodging in the "people's inn".
Not only did we have the special traditional Christmas dishes like the boiled wheat with poppy seed and honey representing sweet and plentiful harvests, and the tri-braided (for the Trinity) round circle of bread that had no beginning and no end, but it also held a burning candle in the middle to represent the light of God in our midst. Every food served on Christmas eve had some meaning.
Carols were always part of the evening and the season. How well I remember the next day, when the carollers would come to the house. The distant jingle of sleigh bells would announce their impending arrival, as they came in an open sleigh with hoarfrost on their moustaches and on their eyebrows. After they finished carolling, there was always much merriment as they helped themselves to the mounds of food that Mom put out for them and of course Dad would reward them with his treat which was the home-brewed whiskey that all major events always had to have. I am certain that that whiskey was what helped to keep them warm --- and eagerly going --- in that 30 below weather.
Those Christmas traditions were truly meaningful and definitely memorable!
But regardless of how you celebrate, traditional or modern, have very Merry Christmas!!!!!