Many families in Luxembourg decorate their Christmas tree a couple of weeks before the 25 December.
Picture credit: Pexels
No other holiday has as many ups and downs like Christmas
With the most cheerful holiday around the corner, families in Luxembourg are decking the halls to host their yearly Christmas feast. As for every country, Luxembourg has its own particular take on the “most joyful” season of the year.
The streets have been sparkling with light strings for weeks,if not months, radios have been playing Michael Bublé on repeat and shops are crowded with people trying to find their last-minute Christmas presents. For a small country, the Christmas fever in Luxembourg does not fall short—the preparations often start weeks ahead.
At the end of November, my mother always asked us children what we wanted to eat for Christmas. And typically, we would ask for “Ham am Deeg” (ham in dough), a very festive meal that needs to be pre-ordered at the butcher. But the work didn’t stop there. During the upcoming weeks, my mother would run from one “traiteur” to the next to make sure that she’d impress our guests with the finest foie-gras. Meanwhile, my dad was in charge of the wine—of course, a first-rate Riesling needed to be served to round up the meals.
Food plays without any doubt a central role in Luxembourg and even more so on Christmas. It is not only about what is being served but also for whom what meals are prepared. Members of bigger families often run from one table to the next, trying to please every related aunt and grandma. When on a normal day, people in Luxembourg consume roughly 2,000 calories, on 24 and 25 December the intake is at least doubled.
Whereas St. Nicolas Day is dedicated to children, on Christmas, the entire family receives gifts. Unlike in the US, it is the so-called “Chrëschtkëndchen” (Christ child) who brings presents to the homes. They are placed under the Christmas tree, next to the “Krëppchen”, which is a miniature representation of the nativity scene of Christ. Most Luxembourgish families open their presents on 24 December, which is Christmas Eve. Some families wait until after dinner and for the less patient ones, presents are opened during the “aperitif”.
As a child, it was difficult to fully understand why the most joyful season of the year ended up being a hectic mess. And years later, I still wonder if all the hustle around that one starfruit on the plate is really necessary when the “aperitif” before the meal blurs the critical perception of most guests anyway.
But apart from all the tense situations with certain family members or the sometimes forced enthusiasm when opening presents, Christmas is one of the only times of the year where the whole family gathers around one table. Some families attend one of the special Christmas masses in Church. These masses are held on 24 December and 25 December and are often specially designed for children.
Many Luxembourgers still prioritise family on Christmas and willingly drive across the country to share a hearty meal. Or to snuggle with their loved ones under a blanket, watch “Home Alone” and warm up with a hot chocolate or some Egg Nogg. And with the heavy snowfall earlier in December, Luxembourg might even hope for a white Christmas this year!